Discovery of the DNA zigzag

The DNA inside a cell’s nucleus is sometimes described as a bunch of spaghetti. But there must be more to it. There has to be a hidden order. How else can a cell can organise the ‘spaghetti’ in neatly packed chromosomes before dividing itself?  

We know that the protein ‘condensin’ plays an important role in organising long DNA strings by drawing them into loops. Researchers from the Kavli Institute at the TU Delft have shown  that two years ago.

Now the same group from the Cees Dekker Lab has discovered another trick of the same protein. They published their findings in Nature. Postdoc researcher Dr. Eugene Kim has shown that not one but two condensin proteins on the same DNA string can work together in making a double fold, or a Z-loop. The molecular process is too complicated for words, but luckily the researchers have produced a short animation. When you watch it, consider that the same process takes place all over your body without you even thinking about it.

Science editor Jos Wassink

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