Bethesda, MD This 2014 FASEB Science Research Conference focuses on dynamic DNA structures. For decades after its discovery, DNA was believed to be a canonical, right-handed double helix. This belief was shaken by the findings that DNA structure is much more dynamic. In fact, DNA can form an enormous variety of secondary structures, including cruciform-like, left-handed helixes, three and four stranded helices, slip-stranded configurations, etc. Most importantly, repetitive DNA sequences, which are overrepresented in genomic DNA, are particularly prone to structural transitions.
Transient denaturation of the double helix, which promotes these dynamic transitions in DNA structure, occurs during all major DNA transactions, including replication, transcription, and recombination. Studies conducted in many labs worldwide have confirmed that structure-prone DNA sequences are central to the normal functioning of the genome, and they are also responsible for its occasional malfunctioning. One striking example is the discovery that expansions of structure-prone DNA repeat leads to more than thirty hereditary neurological and developmental diseases in humans.
Dynamic DNA structures are also involved in regular DNA processes including transcriptional activation, regulation of antigenic switching, and DNA recombination essential to the immune response. DNA structures are associated with recurrent translocations observed in common human cancers, and they also contribute to genomic instability in human hereditary diseases. In an unexpected twist, these DNA structures appeared to be invaluable for nanotechnology, where their unusual physical properties find many applications. These and related topics will be discussed at the conference.
|Contact: Robin Crawford, CMP|
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology