Reshaping DNA
1201 of 3588

Reshaping DNA

November 10, 2011
Researchers from the University of Michigan (U-M) and the University of California, Irvine, have found that the simple DNA double helix is capable of existing in an alternative form for one percent of the time. Scientists have known for some time that the DNA molecule can bend and flex, in a manner similar to a rope ladder, but throughout these gyrations its building blockscalled basesremain paired up just the way they were originally described by James Watson and Francis Crick, who proposed the spiral-staircase structure in 1953. But using an adaptation of the nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) technology, Hashim M. Al-Hashimi, the Robert L. Kuczkowski Professor of Chemistry and professor of biophysics at U-M, and his group observed transient, alternative forms in which some steps on the stairway came apart and reassembled into stable structures other than the typical Watson-Crick base pairs. To learn more about this research, see the U-M news story "DNA caught rock 'n rollin." [This work was supported by the National Science Foundation's Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program, grants MCB 06-44278 and CHE 09-18817.] (Date of Image: October 2010)

comments powered by Disqus