Related topics: dna

Molecular forces: The surprising stretching behavior of DNA

When large forces act on a heavy beam, for example, in bridge construction, the beam will be slightly deformed. Calculating the relationship between forces, internal stresses and deformations is one of the standard tasks ...

Building with DNA

Life on Earth developed from inanimate components. Can we recreate this process in the laboratory, and what tools do we need for this? Using DNA origami, the art of folding at a scale of just a few millionths of a millimetre, ...

'Semi-synthetic' bacteria churn out unnatural proteins

Synthetic biologists seek to create new life with forms and functions not seen in nature. Although scientists are a long way from making a completely artificial life form, they have made semi-synthetic organisms that have ...

Zooming in on an inner-cell DNA repair shop

Inside every cell in your body are molecular machines that help package, read, and repair DNA. These protein assemblies are essential to survival, yet we know little about how they function because, until recently, it was ...

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Double helix

In geometry a double helix (plural helices) typically consists of two congruent helices with the same axis, differing by a translation along the axis, which may or may not be half-way.

The term "double helix" is commonly encountered in molecular biology, where it refers to the structure of DNA. The double-helix model of DNA structure was first published in the journal Nature by James D. Watson and Francis Crick in 1953, based upon the crucial X-ray diffraction image of DNA (labeled as "Photo 51") from Rosalind Franklin in 1952 , followed by her more clarified DNA image with Raymond Gosling, Maurice Wilkins, Alexander Stokes and Herbert Wilson, as well as base-pairing chemical and biochemical information by Erwin Chargaff.

Crick, Wilkins and Watson each received one third of the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their contributions to the discovery. (Franklin, whose breakthrough X-ray diffraction data was used to formulate the DNA structure, died in 1958, and thus was ineligible to be nominated for a Nobel Prize.)

The DNA double helix is a right-handed spiral polymer of nucleic acids, held together by nucleotides which base pair together. A single turn of the helix constitutes ten nucleotides. The double helix structure of DNA contains a major groove and minor groove, the major groove being wider than the minor groove. Given the difference in widths of the major groove and minor groove, many proteins which bind to DNA do so through the wider major groove .

The order, or sequence, of the nucleotides in the double helix within a gene specifies the primary structure of a protein.

The term entered popular culture with the publication in 1968 of The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA, by James Watson.

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