Introduction: Nucleic Acids Structure, Function, and Why Studying Them In Vacuo

  • Valérie GabelicaEmail author
Part of the Physical Chemistry in Action book series (PCIA)


This introductory chapter sets the stage for the various methods and application that will be described in the book “Nucleic acids in the gas phase.” Using key review articles as references, nucleic acid structures are introduced, with progression from primary structure to the main secondary, tertiary, and quaternary structures of DNA and RNA. Nucleic acid function is also overviewed, from the roles of natural nucleic acids in biology to those of artificial nucleic acids in the biotechnology, biomedical, or nanotechnology fields. Importantly, the question of why studying nucleic acids in the gas phase is addressed from three different points of view. First, because isolated molecules in vacuo cannot exchange energy with their surroundings, reactivity can be studied in well-defined energetic conditions. Second, isolating molecules from their solvent and environment allow to study their intrinsic properties. Finally, the rapidly expanding field of mass spectrometry, an intrinsically gas-phase analysis method, calls for better understanding of ion structure and reactivity in vacuo.


Gas phase Mass spectrometry Ionization Oligonucleotide Primary structure Secondary structure Double helix Watson–Crick Triplex G-quadruplex Sequencing Conformation DNA RNA Biotechnology Nanotechnology Solvent effect Desolvation Biology 





Blackbody infrared radiation-induced dissociation


Base pair




Deoxyribonucleic acid


Food and Drug Adminstration




G-quadruplex DNA




Locked nucleic acid


Micro RNA


Messenger RNA


Mass spectrometry


Tandem mass spectrometry


Noncoding RNA


Nuclear magnetic resonance






Protein data bank


Peptide nucleic acid


Ribonucleic acid


Reactive oxygen species


Ribosomal RNA


Solvent-accessible surface area


Silencing RNA




Triplex forming oligonucleotide


Transfer RNA






Vascular endothelial growth factor


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.IECB, ARNA LaboratoryUniv. BordeauxPessacFrance
  2. 2.U869, ARNA Laboratory, InsermBordeauxFrance

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