Tuesday 24 August 2021

New technique illuminates DNA helix


Understanding DNA is critically important: It stores the information that drives how cells work and is increasingly being used in nano- and biotechnology applications. One key question for DNA researchers has been what role the helical nature of DNA plays in processes that take place on DNA.


As a motor protein moves forward along DNA, it must twist or rotate the DNA, and therefore work against the torsional resistance of the DNA. (These motors can carry out gene expression or DNA replication as they move along DNA.) If a motor protein encounters too much resistance, it may stall. While scientists know that DNA torsional stiffness plays a crucial role in the fundamental processes of DNA, measuring torsional stiffness experimentally has been exceedingly difficult.



The technique also offers new opportunities to study twist-induced phase transitions in DNA and their biological implications.




Xiang Gao, Yifeng Hong, Fan Ye, James T. Inman, Michelle D. Wang. Torsional Stiffness of Extended and Plectonemic DNA. Physical Review Letters, 2021; 127 (2) DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.127.028101


Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology Resources (http://www.pharmamicroresources.com/)


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