Almost everyone knows that DNA has a double helix structure and shape, and that it contains all the genetic information of an individual, but a now new study titled The Structural Diversity of Supercoiled DNA and published in the journal Nature Communication says DNA keeps changing its structure and keeps assuming newer shapes.
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The original idea of the shape of the DNA is that it has two helical chains that coil around each other; and while scientists do not debate that for a moment, they added that new studies show DNA molecules continually twist upon themselves to form a tight supercoil that is constantly wiggling and morphing into various shapes.
"Some of the circles had sharp bends, some were figure-8s, and others looked like handcuffs or racquets or even sewing needles," said Dr. Rossitza N. Irobalieva, formerly of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and a co-author of a paper describing the research. "Some looked like rods because they were so coiled."
Also known as molecules of life, deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) provides new insights into its shapes in what might prove useful to medical science and drug treatments for cancer and bacterial infections.
"Since some anti-cancer therapies bind to the DNA itself, and some antibiotics target the enzymes that specifically recognize supercoiled DNA in bacteria, we hope that our research will improve the molecular design of drugs right from the very beginning of the process," said Dr. Sarah A. Harris, a theoretical physicist at the University of Leeds in England and a co-author of the paper.
Researchers from Baylor were able to detect the changing shapes of DNA after they made slight circles of the molecules which were then recreated through cryo-electron tomography. Scientists from Leeds University then used a supercomputer to simulate the changing movements of the shapes and predict the new shapes they would assume, and the DNA did.
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This presents an altogether different idea about DNA, but then scientists keep researching into what the shape-changing molecule could do for individual persons in the genetic codes they hold and how they impacts on their health and medical treatments.