Surface-tethered nucleic acids are widely applied in solid-phase assays in which complementary strands must be detected against a complex mixture of other sequences. In response to such needs, numerous methods have been developed for immobilizing nucleic acids on solid supports. Often, detailed analysis of associated chemical transformations and of potential side reactions is difficult to obtain. Combined use of planar and high surface area powder supports allows characterization using surface as well as bulk diagnostic techniques. This approach is followed in the present study in which X-ray photo-electron spectroscopy (XPS), transmission infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and reactivity titrations are used to investigate siliceous supports modified with an aminosilane precursor followed by a maleimide-bearing crosslinker for attachment of nucleic acids. The supports retain maleimide activity for approximately a day when stored under buffer, but deactivation is accelerated under basic conditions or by incomplete conversion of the precursor aminosilane monolayer. Reactions involving the olefinic bond of the imide as well as its carbonyl groups are observed and analyzed. Attachment of sulfhydryl-terminated oligodeoxyribonucleotides is highly site specific, and immobilized strands exhibit excellent hybridization activity. Quantitative use of XPS for label-free determination of DNA coverage based on calibration against reference materials is also described.
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