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Chemists describe "zipper teeth" of DNA molecules -- publish results in the journal Nature

ers found that there is only one way that they bond. They are not quite ready to say it is the Watson-Crick pairing, but rather that it seems likely.

Regarding the work, De Vries commented, "Biology usually looks at an entire system, while chemistry takes it all apart. We want to know not just what it does, but how it does it." He explained that the experiments included new understanding about "how things fall apart." In some cases they saw how hydrogen (which connects the bases) ended up on the wrong part of the base pair. "This is how mistakes are introduced," said de Vries. "The fact that we can see it occur at the level of individual molecules is a major finding."

In the experiments, the researchers also looked at the bases with water molecules attached, from one to 50 molecules, thus simulating a solvent environment.

De Vries explained that theorists have been learning to do computations at a level that can't be compared to experiment. "We can now do this as a test for some of these theories," he said.

He explained that this endeavor, the study of biologically-relevant materials in the gas phase, is a new field. "The first conference on this occurred in France this year, it's a clear indication that this is an emerging field," he said


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Contact: Gail Brown
gbrown@instadv.ucsb.edu
805-893-7220
University of California - Santa Barbara
20-Dec-2000


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