Adsorption of double-stranded ribonucleic acids (dsRNA) to iron (oxyhydr-)oxide surfaces: comparative analysis of model dsRNA molecules and deoxyribonucleic acids (DNA)†
Double-stranded ribonucleic acid (dsRNA) molecules are novel plant-incorporated protectants expressed in genetically modified RNA interference (RNAi) crops. Ecological risk assessment (ERA) of RNAi crops requires a heretofore-missing detailed understanding of dsRNA adsorption in soils, a key fate process. Herein, we systematically study the adsorption of a model dsRNA molecule and of two double-stranded deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) molecules of varying lengths to three soil iron (oxyhydr-)oxides – goethite, lepidocrocite, and hematite – over a range of solution pH (4.5–10), ionic strength (I = 10–100 mM NaCl) and composition (0.5, 1, and 3 mM MgCl2) and in the absence and presence of phosphate (0.05–5 mM) as co-adsorbate. We hypothesized comparable adsorption characteristics of dsRNA and DNA based on their structural similarities. Consistently, the three nucleic acids (NAs) showed high adsorption affinities to the iron (oxyhydr-)oxides with decreasing adsorption in the order goethite, lepidocrocite, and hematite, likely reflecting a decrease in the hydroxyl group density and positive charges of the oxide surfaces in the same order. NA adsorption also decreased with increasing solution pH, consistent with weakening of NA electrostatic attraction to and inner–sphere complex formation with the iron (oxyhydr-)oxides surfaces as pH increased. Adsorbed NA concentrations increased with increasing I and in the presence of Mg2+, consistent with adsorbed NA molecules adopting more compact conformations. Strong NA–phosphate adsorption competition demonstrates that co-adsorbates need consideration in assessing dsRNA fate in soils. Comparable adsorption characteristics of dsRNA and DNA molecules to iron (oxyhydr-)oxides imply that information on DNA adsorption to soil particle surfaces can inform dsRNA ERA.
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