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Major advance made on DNA structure

s," Ho said. "DNA is much more than just a string of letters, it's an actual structure that we have to explore if we ever hope to understand biological function. This is a significant step forward, a milestone in DNA structural biology."

In the early 1950s, two researchers at Cambridge University ?James Watson and Francis Crick ?made pioneering discoveries by proposing the double-helix structure of DNA, along with another research group in England about the same time. They later received the Nobel Prize for this breakthrough, which has been called the most important biological work of the past century and revolutionized the study of biochemistry. Some of the other early and profoundly important work in protein chemistry was done by Linus Pauling, an OSU alumnus and himself the recipient of two Nobel Prizes.

However, Watson and Crick actually identified only one structure of DNA, called B-DNA, when in fact there are many others ?one of which was discovered and another whose structure was solved at OSU in recent years ?that all have different effects on genetic function.

Aside from the genetic sequence that DNA encodes, the structure of the DNA itself can have profound biological effects, scientists now understand. Until now, there has been no reliable method to identify DNA structure from sequence, and learn more about its effects on biological function.

In their studies, the OSU scientists used X-ray examination of crystalline DNA to reconstruct exactly what the DNA looks like at the atomic level. By determining 63 of the 64 possible DNA sequences, they were able to ultimately determine the physical structure of the underlying DNA for all different types of sequences. Another important part of this study is the finding that the process of DNA crystallization does not distort its structure.

"Essentially, this is a proof of concept, a demonstration that this approach to studying DNA structure will work, and can ultimately be use
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Source:Oregon State University


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