When you visualize a DNA structure, you probably think about the well-known ‘double helix’ that was revealed in 1953 by Cambridge University scientists James Watson and Francis Crick.
The duo, along with physicist and molecular biologist Maurice Wilkins, won the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for what the Nobel Foundation described as their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material.”
Scientists at Australia’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research are now reporting that they have been able to observe and identify a totally new DNA structure inside of a living cell called i-Motif.
Rather than an elegant looking double helix, research co-leader, Marcel Dinger, a division head at Garvan’s Kinghorn Center for Clinical Genomics, says that the i-motif structure is a four-stranded ‘knot’ of DNA.
The new i-motif structure has actually been seen and studied before, but under artificial laboratory conditions, not in an actual living cell.
In the years since the classic double helix DNA structure was first shown, scientists have determined that short lengths of DNA can be found in other shapes as well.
It’s thought that the different shaped DNA might help determine just how and when the genetic code is read.
The findings made by the Australian team’s research have been detailed in a new study that was recently published in the journal, Nature Chemistry.