In most organisms, DNA exists in either a loosely wound or a tightly wound state—a phenomenon known as supercoiling.
New research shows, however, that supercoiled DNA can adopt myriad conformations, twisting in a variety of ways to deal with torsional stress.
Moreover, when overwound, supercoiled DNA appears to be just as amenable to base-pair opening as underwound DNA, suggesting that base-pair disruption may serve as a hinge mechanism to facilitate coiling.
The new findings reveal the exponential complexity inherent in supercoiled DNA, opening the way for new insight into the remarkably dynamic behavior of the DNA molecule.
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