Although DNA absorption at wavelengths greater than 300 nm is much weaker than that at shorter wavelengths, this absorption seems to be responsible for much of the biological damage caused by solar radiation of wavelengths less than 320 nm. Accurate measurement of the absorption spectrum of DNA above 300 nm is complicated by turbidity characteristic of concentrated solutions of DNA. We have measured the absorption spectra of DNA from calf thymus, Clostridium perfringens, Escherichia coli, Micrococcus luteus, salmon testis, and human placenta using procedures which separate optical density due to true absorption from that due to turbidity. Above 300 nm, the relative absorption of DNA increases as a function of guanine-cytosine content, presumably because the absorption of guanine is much greater than the absorption of adenine at these wavelengths. This result suggests that the photophysical processes which follow absorption of a long-wavelength photon may, on the average, differ from those induced by shorter-wavelength photons. It may also explain the lower quantum yield for the killing of cells by wavelengths above 300 nm compared to that by shorter wavelengths.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging