Nucleic acid quaternary structure

Interactive image of nucleic acid structure (primary, secondary, tertiary, and quaternary) using DNA helices and examples from the VS ribozyme and telomerase and nucleosome. (PDB: ADNA, 1BNA, 4OCB, 4R4V, 1YMO, 1EQZ​) Play media DNA coils and winds around histone proteins to condense into chromatin.

Nucleic acid quaternary structure refers to the interactions between separate nucleic acid molecules, or between nucleic acid molecules and proteins. The concept is analogous to protein quaternary structure, but as the analogy is not perfect, the term is used to refer to a number of different concepts in nucleic acids and is less commonly encountered. Similarly other biomolecules such as proteins, nucleic acids have four levels of structural arrangement: primary, secondary, tertiary, and quaternary structure. Primary structure is the linear sequence of nucleotides, secondary structure involves small local folding motifs, and tertiary structure is the 3D folded shape of nucleic acid molecule. In general, quaternary structure refers to 3D interactions between multiple subunits. In the case of nucleic acids, quaternary structure refers to interactions between multiple nucleic acid molecules or between nucleic acids and proteins. Nucleic acid quaternary structure is important for understanding DNA, RNA, and gene expression because quaternary structure can impact function. For example, when DNA is packed into chromatin, therefore exhibiting a type of quaternary structure, gene transcription will be inhibited.

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