Scientists have shed light on DNA ‘melting’ – a crucial process fundamental to all life.
The researchers, from Imperial College London, who used bacteria in their experiments, say these findings may provide new insights into eradicating harmful bugs.
'How DNA melts is a fundamental part to all life – bacterial and human'
Professor Xiaodong Zhang, Study author
DNA encodes information to make proteins, which are key to all processes in life. The DNA molecule is composed of two complementary strands, which are normally wrapped around each other in a helical structure.
When a cell wants to make proteins, the strands need to be pulled apart or 'melted' first, before a fundamental cellular process called transcription takes place.
Because transcription also takes place in human cells, the new findings may provide insights for conditions such as cancer and other diseases.
But although this DNA melting process is fundamental to life, scientists are still in the dark about the intricate details of how the cell’s machinery captures and reads the DNA.
In the new research, published in Molecular Cell, the team used an extremely powerful technique called cryo-electron microscopy to physically see how the DNA melting process happens in detail.