Although DNA is generally viewed as a stable molecule, many conditions can cause loss of DNA bases or strand breakage.
- Depurination involves the loss of purine bases forming abasic sites
- Depurination is one of the two limiting factors in chemical synthesis of long DNA oligos (the other is coupling efficiency)
- DNA under physiological conditions has been estimated to depurinate at a rate of /sec at 37C and pH 7.4 
- Heating DNA for 10m@100 at pH 7.0 leads to about 1 apurinic site per 1000 base pairs
- The activation energy of depurination is around 29 kcal/mol
- Higher temperatures lead to faster depurination
- Denatured DNA depurinates at about 4 times the rate of dsDNA @ pH 7.4
- Methylated As (6-methyladenine) found in bacteria are depurinated 4 times faster than the unmethylated purine bases
- Depurination decreases at higher pH (thus acidic conditions favor depurination)
- Depurination proceeds more rapidly in buffers of low ionic strength
- Depurination is correlated with lower transformation efficiency
- Depurination is independent of sequence
- Cytosine can be spontaneously deaminated to form uracil.
- Abasic sites are alkali-labile. Under mildly alkaline conditions, β-elimination occurs which nicks 3' to the abasic site leaving a 5'-P on the downstream fragment
- Under strong alkaline conditions, δ-elimination will occur after β-elimination which completely removes the abasic site leaving a 3'-P on the upstream fragment and a 5'-P on the downstream fragment