Double DNA

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

Bob Grant
Bob Grant

Bob Grant is Editor in Chief of The Scientist, where he started in 2007 as a Staff Writer.

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Jan 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...

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Double DNA

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