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Loopy DNA

February 28, 2018

How a protein keeps DNA neat, tidy, and ready to replicate.



Keeping DNA untangled. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Every cell in your body has a nucleus packed with six feet of spaghetti – like DNA. When it comes time to divide, proteins called condensins scrunch that DNA into tight, organized bundles. The process is critical for cell reproduction, but no one knew how it worked. Now, in the journal Science, Delft University of Technology researcher Cees Decker and his colleagues report pinning down two ends of a DNA molecule and watching condensin form organized loops in the strand.

CEES DECKER (Delft University of Technology):

You have a single DNA molecule that you can see in the microscope, you see a single condensin molecule, and we see that in real time it grabs it and it starts reeling in this loop.


The discovery sheds light on cell processes that sometimes malfunction and cause disease. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Bob Hirshon