So-called «supercoils» change the behavior of DNA, opening a new role for topology in the study of life.
DNA is probably best known for its iconic shape — the double helix that James Watson and Francis Crick first described more than 60 years ago. But the molecule rarely takes that form in living cells. Instead, double-helix DNA is further wrapped into complex shapes that can play a profound role in how it interacts with other molecules. “DNA is way more active in its own regulation than we thought,” said Lynn Zechiedrich, a biophysicist at Baylor College of Medicine and one of the researchers leading the study of so-called supercoiled DNA. “It’s not a passive [molecule] waiting to be latched on to by proteins.” [more⇒]
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