New Triggers Capable of Bringing Change in DNA Shape Found

Published Date : May 29, 2018

It is well known that the DNA has a double helix structure but there are DNAs with different structures as well According to a new research undertaken at the University of East Anglia, it has been found that a number of triggers, including oxygen and copper can manipulate the shape of DNA. This discovery can lead to a number of breakthroughs in areas such as DNA-based computing and nanotechnology.

Unusual DNA structures are often considered to play a potential role in the development of a number of genetic conditions such as cancer and diabetes. Known previously to change using acid, DNA structures are now shown to also change owing to other triggers. Researchers can use this system as a switch wherein the DNA in two different structural states can be recognized as ‘On’ or ‘Off’. This can have vast positive implications on the DNA nano-machine application area.

According to a previous research undertaken by the lead author of this study, it was found that the structure of DNA can also be transformed into a hairpin structure with the use of copper salts. The change in the structure can be reversed with the help of EDTA, thus expanding the capability of DNA into two instead of one switches.

For the study, the researchers added copper salts to DNA in an oxygen-free environment. After the molecule changed its structure into an i-motif, it was then exposed to oxygen in the air, upon which, it changed its structure into a hairpin. The process can be reversed-from i-motif form to hairpin form to the natural unfolded double-helix state.