Medical research

Artificially engineering the intestine

Short bowel syndrome is a debilitating condition with few treatment options, and these treatments have limited efficacy. The ability to grow artificial intestine is a coveted goal with the potential to profoundly improve ...

Oncology & Cancer

Alternative molecular mechanisms observed in cancer cells

Current anti-cancer drugs can be quite effective but too often, tumors are not fought off completely and end up returning. A recent study published in The FASEB Journal provides the first evidence that some cancer cells evade ...

Neuroscience

The mystery of touch and how we feel about it

The mechanism of tactile sensation has not yet been solved, though it is a fundamental sense for humans. NITech scientists investigated its mechanism and found the important cues in touch could be different for each person. ...

Medical research

Helping blood cells regenerate after radiation therapy

Patients with blood cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma are often treated by irradiating their bone marrow to destroy the diseased cells. After the treatment, patients are vulnerable to infection and fatigue until new blood ...

Medical research

Watching an embryo's neural tube close

In those precious weeks before a woman even realizes she's pregnant, an embryo will have already developed a neural tube, a hollow structure made of cells which will eventually become the brain and spinal cord. Now, with ...

Neuroscience

New insights into the adolescent brain

The inner workings of the teenage brain are now slightly less mysterious, thanks to a research team led by University of Delaware engineers.

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DNA structure

DNA structure shows a variety of forms, both double-stranded and single-stranded. The mechanical properties of DNA, which are directly related to its structure, are a significant problem for cells. Every process which binds or reads DNA is able to use or modify the mechanical properties of DNA for purposes of recognition, packaging and modification. The extreme length (a chromosome may contain a 10 cm long DNA strand), relative rigidity and helical structure of DNA has led to the evolution of histones and of enzymes such as topoisomerases and helicases to manage a cell's DNA. The properties of DNA are closely related to its molecular structure and sequence, particularly the weakness of the hydrogen bonds and electronic interactions that hold strands of DNA together compared to the strength of the bonds within each strand.

Experimental techniques which can directly measure the mechanical properties of DNA are relatively new, and high-resolution visualization in solution is often difficult. Nevertheless, scientists have uncovered large amount of data on the mechanical properties of this polymer, and the implications of DNA's mechanical properties on cellular processes is a topic of active current research.

It is important to note the DNA found in many cells can be macroscopic in length - a few centimetres long for each human chromosome. Consequently, cells must compact or "package" DNA to carry it within them. In eukaryotes this is carried by spool-like proteins known as histones, around which DNA winds. It is the further compaction of this DNA-protein complex which produces the well known mitotic eukaryotic chromosomes.

This text uses material from Wikipedia, licensed under CC BY-SA