Z-DNA: Conformational Flexibility of the DNA Double Helix
During the last 5 years new insights into the molecular structure of the DNA double helix have been obtained. An enhanced awareness of the conformational flexibility of the double-helical molecule has resulted (Cantor 1981; Pohl 1983; Rich 1983). The spectrum of the structural DNA polymorphism ranges from subtle, but distinct variations (e.g., Drew and Travers 1984; Frederick et al. 1984) of the classical right-handed B-DNA (Watson and Crick 1953) to the radically different left-handed Z-DNA (Wang et al. 1979). Two methodological developments allowed the recent progress in our understanding of DNA structure: first, rapid chemical synthesis of DNA oligonucleotides with defined nucleotide sequence and, second, recombinant DNA technology. The first technique greatly facilitated DNA X-ray crystallography by ensuring the supply of sufficient quantities of pure DNA material. The second method, in vitro recombination and cloning of DNA sequences, allowed biochemical characterization of individual DNA seaments of natural origin.
KeywordsPolytene Chromosome Conformational Flexibility Supercoiled Plasmid Superhelical Density Superhelical Turn
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