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DNA-RNA (unsual structure)

DNA-RNA (unsual structure)

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Published by Anu CN

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Published by: Anu CN on Feb 08, 2012
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06/01/2013

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UNUSUAL STRUCTURES OFDNA
ANUPAMA CNM11BT06MCC
 
INTRODUCTION
The discovery that DNA is the prime genetic molecule, carryingall the hereditary information within chromosomes, immediately focusedattention on its structure. It was hoped that knowledge of the structurewould reveal how DNA carries the genetic messages that are replicatedwhen chromosomes divide to produce two identical copies of themselves.During the late 1940s and early 1950s, several research groups in the UnitedStates and in Europe engaged in serious efforts
both cooperative andrival
to understand how the atoms of DNA are linked together by covalentbonds and how the resulting molecules are arranged in three-dimensionalspace. Not surprisingly, there initially were fears that DNA might have verycomplicated and perhaps bizarre structures that differed radically from onegene to another. Great relief, if not general elation, was thus expressedwhen the fundamental DNA structure was found to be the double helix. Ittold us that all genes have roughly the same three-dimensional form and thatthe differences between two genes reside in the order and number of theirfour nucleotide building blocks along the complementary strands.Now, some 50 years after the discovery of the double helix, thissimple description of the genetic material remains true and has not had tobe appreciably altered to accommodate new findings. Nevertheless, we havecome to realize that the structure of DNA is not quite as uniform as wasfirst thought. For example, the chromosome of some small viruses havesingle-stranded, not double-stranded, molecules. Moreover, the preciseorientation of the base pairs varies slightly from base pair to base pair in amanner that is influenced by the local DNA sequence. Some DNA sequenceseven permit the double helix to twist in the left-handed sense, as opposed tothe right-
handed sense originally formulated for DNA’
s general structure.And while some DNA molecules are linear, others are circular. Still additionalcomplexity comes from the supercoiling (further twisting) of the doublehelix, often around cores of DNA-binding proteins. Likewise, we now realizethat RNA, which at first glance appears to be very similar to DNA, has itsown distinctive structural features. It is principally found as a single-stranded molecule. Yet by means of intra-strand base pairing, RNA exhibits
 
extensive double-helical character and is capable of folding into a wealth ofdiverse tertiary structures. These structures are full of surprises, such asnon-classical base pairs, base-backbone interactions, and knot-likeconfigurations. Most remarkable of all, and of profound evolutionarysignificance, some RNA molecules are enzymes that carry out reactions thatare at the core of information transfer from nucleic acid to protein. Clearly,the structures of DNA and RNA are richer and more intricate than was atfirst appreciated. Indeed, there is no one generic structure for DNA andRNA. As we shall see in this chapter, there are in fact variations on commonthemes of structure that arise from the unique physical, chemical, andtopological properties of the polynucleotide chain.
DNA structure
DNA hasdeoxyriboseas its sugar.DNAconsists of a phosphate group, a sugar, and anitrogenous base.The structure ofDNAis a helical, double- stranded macromolecule with bases projecting into the interior of themolecule. These two strands are always complementary in sequence. Onestrand serves as a template for the formation of the other duringDNAreplication,a major source of inheritance. This unique feature ofDNAprovides a mechanism for the continuity of life. The structure of DNA wasfound by Rosalind Franklin when she used x-ray crystallography to study thegenetic material. The x-ray photo she obtained revealed the physicalstructure of DNA as a helix.DNAhas a double helix structure. The outer edges are formed byalternating deoxyribose sugar molecules andphosphate groups,which makeup the sugar-phosphate backbone. The two strands run in oppositedirections, one going in a 3' to 5' direction and the other going in a 5' to 3'direction. Thenitrogenous basesare positioned inside the helix structurelike "rungs on a ladder," due to the hydrophobic effect, and stabilized byhydrogen bonding.The two strands run in opposite directions to form the double helix. Thestrands are held together by hydrogen bonds and hydrophobic interactions.

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