Scientists have found evidence that DNA binds in a different way than previously believed. Researchers at the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden have discovered that water is the crucial binder that holds DNA together, and not hydrogen as the experts in the fields have earlier suggested.
Water is the key
DNA is formed of two separate cords of sugar molecules and phosphate groups. Among these two cords, scientists say there are nitrogen bases, the blends that create genes, with hydrogen ties between them. As of now, it was generally believed that those hydrogen ties held the two cords together.
However, scientists from the Chalmers University of Technology explain that the mystery to DNA’s spiral construction may be that the molecules have a hydrophobic interior, in a setting mainly composed of water. The environment is, thus, hydrophilic, but the DNA molecules’ nitrogen bases are definitely hydrophobic, repelling the surrounding water. When hydrophobic bases are in located in a hydrophilic setting, they bind together to reduce their exposure to the water.
The finding is vital for understanding DNA’s relationship with its setting.
For instance, reproduction, comprises the base pairs disbanding from each other and opening up, with the enzymes then copying both parts of the helix to design a new DNA. In regards to repairing broken DNA, the damaged parts undergo a hydrophobic setting in order to be replaced. The environment is then created by a catalytic protein, which is crucial to all DNA repairs. This means it could be the main ingredient in helping to fight numerous severe sicknesses.
If scientists could understand these proteins, a lot would be made clear with regards to fighting resistant bacteria, for instance, or probably curing cancer. Bacteria utilize a protein known as RecA to repair their DNA, and the scientists think their discoveries could offer a new understanding of how the process functions. New insights could also probably provide methods for stopping the bacteria and therefore killing it.
The scientists also observed how DNA acts in a setting that is majoritarian hydrophobic than usual. They utilized the hydrophobic solution polyethylene glycol and altered the DNA’s environment gradually from the naturally hydrophilic configuration to a hydrophobic one.
They wanted to find out if there is a limit where DNA starts to drop its structure when the DNA does not have a reason to combine, because the setting is not hydrophilic anymore. The research team saw that when the solution got to the borderline between hydrophilic and hydrophobic, the DNA molecules’ usual helix structure started to untangle.
The study has been called ‘Hydrophobic catalysis and a potential biological role of DNA unstacking induced by environment effects,’ and it is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).