Scientists at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, in Australia, discovered a new DNA structure, a “knot” form of DNA. Since the discovery of the known DNA form, it has been noticed that shorter chains of genetic material can also appear in other forms, at least under laboratory conditions, and researchers suspect that these different forms can play an important role in how and when the DNA code is read.
The new discovery was published in the journal Nature Chemistry and demonstrates that the structure of DNA can be extremely different from the known double helix.
“This new study reminds us that there may be totally different DNA structures that may be important to our cells,” said Daniel Christ, one of the Australian researchers.
The new DNA structure may have an important role in either activating or not the telomere genes.
Until now, the new structure has been observed in-vitro, only under laboratory conditions and not within living human cells. In fact, the scientists have long debated the natural existence of these structures, until now.
Researchers have been able to detect the new DNA structure with an extremely precise instrument, namely, a fragment of an antibiotic molecule.
“What surprised us most is that we were able to see the green structures, the motifs in the form of the letter I, that appeared and disappeared so that we know that it is formed, dissolved, and re-formed,” said Mahdi Zeraati, the study’s leading author.
Researchers have shown that DNA structures are formed at a certain point in the cell’s life cycle, that is, in late G1, when the DNA code is read. They have also shown that the new DNA structure appears in areas where the DNA controls whether the genes are activated or not in telomere, the sections at the end of the chromosomes that are important in the aging process.
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