The Amazing Supercoiled DNA

Scientists from Baylor College of Medicine have adopted the microscopy technique in order to find different shapes of DNA. The cryo-electron tomography technique was used to create and capture three-dimensional models of DNA.

Dr. Rossitza Irobalieva, the co-lead writer and scientist from Baylor declares that supercomputers are very important for drug development, as she has found many different and unusual DNA shapes: figure 8-s, tailoring needles, sharp crooks or even handcuffs.

Watson and Crick are the first biologists that have identified the double-helix structure of the DNA molecule, but these new findings could revolutionize the medicine and pharmaceutical industries.

The indispensable enzyme that conducts the DNA, purified human topoisomerase II alpha, was selected for this analysis. This enzyme has surprisingly diminished the winding tension from the supercoiled circles, making them easy to turn in other shapes.

Dr. Lynn Zechiedrich from Baylor, has observed the DNA’s different degrees of curving by making circles, because linear DNA cannot be studied in this actual form. She states that the double-helix DNA is just a small part of the original genome from about 3 billion base pairs which complete the regular human DNA particle.

The hypothesis of the DNA breakage which turns into versatile pivots, allowing the DNA to bend sharply, should elucidate how a meter of DNA could be packed completely into one human cell. The base pairs in DNA look exactly like an alphabet, where we have a distinct letter on one side of that pair with another letter and the scientists assumed that they will see the opening of base pairs but they only saw this opening for the over-wound DNA.

Genetics has plenty of practical applications, even though many genetic disorders are not treatable yet. The basic hereditary  mechanisms of cystic fibrosis, hemophilia and other DNA related disorders are being studied so the DNA structure plays a tremendous role in finding alternative cures for disease prevention.

The human genetic development is a controversial topic, but research holds a decisive key role and new findings could put an end to incurable genetic diseases such as: Alport Syndrome, Down Syndrome, polycystic kidney disease, Canavan disease, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, Angelman syndrome, Turner syndrome, Cri Du Chat syndrome, Klinefelter syndrome, Adrenogenital syndrome,  Tay-Sachs disease, Sickle-cell disease, neurofibromatosis, haemophilia, haemochromatosis, duchenne muscular dystrophy, and the list can go on.

Source – Capital Berg by


Irobalieva RN, Fogg JM, Catanese DJ, Sutthibutpong T, Chen M, Barker AK, Ludtke SJ, Harris SA, Schmid MF, Chiu W, Zechiedrich L. (2015) Structural Diversity of supercoiled DNA. Nature Comm [Epub ahead of print]. [article]