MAR 10, 2016 1:49 PM PST

Nailing Down the 3D Structure of "Deoxyribozyme"

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker
In addition to its double helix shape famous for holding the information of the genetic code, DNA can also occur as an enzyme, called deoxyribozyme. Although isolated over twenty years ago, scientists haven’t been able to associate DNA’s catalytic activity with its three-dimensional structure, until now. 

In a new study from the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, researchers “built” the so-called “DNAzyme” in its crystal structure on computer program in the laboratory, synthesized as single stranded DNA. 

“We can see that this DNA is capable of taking on forms as complex as those of protein enzymes or ribozymes capable of catalytic activity," said Almudena Ponce-Salvatierra, PhD. 

DNA’s non-double helix shape has “broken the paradigm” of assumed DNA structure uniformity. Rather than exhibiting the stiffness thought to accompany all DNA, the DNAzyme is flexible and follows a complicated three-dimensional structure.
 
3-D glasses and monitors make it possible to better visualize the structural details of the deoxyribozyme.


The scientists also found a specific structure of the DNAzyme named 9DB1, which apparently catalyzes the ligation of two RNA strands. The study was recently published in Nature.

Scientists are also already looking ahead to apply the mechanisms of the DNAzyme in medicine. Some clinical trials are already under way. Scientists see a potential for DNAzyme to be able to repair nucleotide bases, which could have countless applications in therapeutics for disease-causing mutations.
 

Source: Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology
 
About the Author
I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
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