Double DNA

Scientists provide evidence for the existence of four-stranded human DNA, which has previously only been theorized and synthesized.

By | January 22, 2013

HeLa cells, one type of cancer cell where G-quadruplexes were locatedWIKIMEDIA, TenOfAllTradesResearchers at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom have reportedly identified quadruple-helix human DNA for the first time ever. Though four-stranded DNA molecules were synthesized in the lab more than 50 years ago, never before have such “G-quadruplexes,” so named because they were thought to occur in guanine-rich regions of the genome, been observed in human cells. The Cambridge scientists provide strong evidence that such four-helix DNA does exist in humans, and suggested that it may play a central role in human disease.

“It’s early days, but if we can map exactly where these G-quadruplex structures pop up in the genome, we may learn how better to control genes or other cellular processes that go awry in diseases like cancer,” study leader Shankar Balasubramanian told Nature. “That’s the long-term vision anyway.’’

Balasubramanian and his team made an antibody that bound tightly to G-quadruplex structures, but not to traditional double-helix DNA, and found that it bound to many different sites on human chromosomes in cultured tumor cells. They published their findings earlier this week (January 20) in Nature Chemistry.

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Avatar of: Helmg


Posts: 1

January 22, 2013

Forgive my ignorance, but why can't the quadruple DNA just be an area where the molecule is replicating itself? Would that explan why it's more prevalent in rapidly dividing cells?

Avatar of: ProfKH


Posts: 1

January 27, 2013

Helmg, I am assuming that these researchers have confirmed a bonded quadruplex structure.  In replication, two new daughter double helices are forming side by side from an original parent double helix strand.

Avatar of: wclem


Posts: 2

January 30, 2013

It would be nice to see a graphic of the structure...oh well I guess I'll google.


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