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Interlocking rings unlock new material properties

Researchers working with Jonathan Barnes, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry, have recently shown how molecules with interlocking ring architectures can be functionalized and incorporated into three-dimensional ...

Promising new materials mimic muscle structure and function

Inspired by the structure of muscles, an innovative new strategy for creating fiber actuators could lead to advances in robotics, prosthetics, and smart clothing, according to a Penn State led team of scientists who discovered ...

Study identifies distinct roles for nuclear lamin isoforms

A Northwestern Medicine study has uncovered distinct roles for major nuclear lamin isoforms in maintaining intracellular interactions and cellular mechanics, according to findings published in the Proceedings of the National ...

Superhard material synthesis made cheaper

Skoltech researchers and their colleagues from Tomsk Polytechnic University have proposed an efficient and inexpensive way to synthesize superhard tungsten boride, used in drilling and other industrial technologies. The research ...

Researchers create exotic magnetic structures with laser light

Research at Lund University in Sweden has found a new way to create nano-sized magnetic particles using ultrafast laser light pulses. The discovery could pave the way for new and more energy-efficient technical components ...

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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.

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