Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Quadruplex DNA Observed in Cells

There is no more iconic image in biology than that of DNA's double-stranded helix, which coils and supercoils on itself to form dense chromosomes.

But a quite different, square-shaped type of DNA structure can easily be created in the laboratory by the folding of synthetic DNA strands rich in guanine, one of the building blocks of DNA. Scientists have long believed that these so-called 'G-quadruplex structures' may occasionally form in the DNA of living cells. A G-quadruplex comprises four guanines from different places along a G-rich strand held together by a special type of hydrogen bonding to form a compact square structure that interrupts the DNA helix.

In a paper published online today in Nature Chemistry, researchers led by Shankar Balasubramanian at the University of Cambridge, UK, provide strong evidence that G-quadruplexes do occur in cells — and that these unusual structures may have important biological functions.
Multi stranded DNA molecules can no longer be called alien.

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