DNA Day experts answer your questions about the structure of DNA

20 April 2012

What does DNA stand for?

deoxyribonucleic acid

- Answer provided by Jay Ingram

How do we know FOR SURE, that DNA is shaped as a double helix if we have never actually seen it?

But we HAVE seen it!! :) The shape was originally estimated from x-ray crystallography. More recently, in 2012 a picture was taken by electron microscope and published here: Direct Imaging of DNA Fibers - Nano Letters

- Answer provided by Dr. Monique Haakensen

What does DNA look like?

It's a double helix. Check this out: Animated DNA image http://explorecuriocity.org/Explore/ArticleId/%22http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f5/Z-DNA_orbit_animated_small.gif%22

- Answer provided by Dr. Sean Myles

Why is the DNA double-stranded? Could DNA exist if it were single-stranded?

Not sure why the DNA is double stranded but it could be to help package it better. Also being double stranded could protect it better from being degraded but since we get a one copy from each parent this could be why it is double stranded. We need the complementary strands to come together for meiosis and mitosis, so evolutionarily this is why it has been selected for double stranded DNA.

- Answer provided by Dr. Dennis McCormac

Are there more Guanine-Cytosine bonds than Adenine-Thymine bonds in normal DNA sequences?

I'm unsure, but I believe the GC content of genomes is highly variable - 20 to 80% - so it really depends on what organism you are considering.

- Answer provided by Dr. Sean Myles

How does the DNA Structure help with its function?

The double helix DNA Structure is particularly well suited to being copied. It needs to unwind and wind back up quickly during DNA DNA Replication and transcription. Also, the fact that the helix has two strands enables the bases to be paired along the "rungs" of the DNA ladder which is essential for copying fidelity and speed.

- Answer provided by Dr. Sean Myles

I know DNA is made of Adenine, Guanine, Cytosine, and Thymine. But what are these things? What do they do?

These are the building blocks and are used as the code to convert DNA into RNA and eventually proteins which makes up our cells, tissues and organs.

- Answer provided by Dr. Gijs Van Rooijen

Is the shape of the double helix significant ?

The double helix is significant because it makes unwinding and replication of the two strands possible, not to mention making it possible to copy DNA to mRNA and create proteins.

- Answer provided by Jay Ingram


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