Scientists are reporting that intact double-stranded DNA has an “amazing” ability to recognize similarities in other DNA strands at a distance ~ somehow identifying one another ~ and that the tiny bits of genetic material tend to congregate with similar DNA.
There is no known reason why the DNA is able to combine in the way it does, and from a current theoretical standpoint this feat should be chemically impossible, scientists say.
Communication But No Physical Contact
Research published in ACS’ Journal of Physical Chemistry shows clearly that homology recognition between sequences of several hundred nucleotides occurs without physical contact or presence of proteins. Double helixes of DNA can recognize matching molecules from a distance and then gather together, all seemingly without help from any other molecules or chemical signals.
In the study, scientists observed the behavior of fluorescently tagged DNA strands placed in water that contained no proteins or other material that could interfere with the experiment. Strands with identical nucleotide sequences were about twice as likely to gather together as DNA strands with different sequences.
May Foster DNA Repair
No one knows how individual DNA strands could be communicating in this way.
“Amazingly, the forces responsible for the sequence recognition can reach across more than one nanometer of water separating the surfaces of the nearest neighbor DNA,” said study authors Geoff S. Baldwin, Sergey Leikin, John M. Seddon, and Alexei A. Kornyshev and colleagues.
This recognition effect may help increase the accuracy and efficiency of the homologous recombination of genes, which is a process responsible for DNA repair, evolution, and genetic diversity. The new findings may also shed light on ways to avoid recombination errors, which are factors in cancer, aging, and other health issues.
Click here for the Daily Galaxy article.