DNA Construction Set
So what else is DNA good for besides evolving meddlesome creatures that cover the planet with reactive oxygen, then others that breathe the oxygen and start looking for other planets? DNA–and its predecessor, RNA–are the most amazing building sets ever known.
A recent article in Science shows how DNA can build self-programmed 3D structures. The most amazing part is how the linear 1D sequence of DNA bases actually determines the 3D structure. The way this works is that short stretches of DNA have bases complementary to other short stretches elsewhere in the long strand. Wherever the short stretches line up, they will twist around each other to form a short double helix. But then, the strands come apart to form double helix with other stretches elsewhere on the molecule.
Why would life’s information molecule have such intriguing properties? If we look at DNA’s precursor, RNA, we see that life is full of 3D RNA molecules composed of “hairpin” turns. The most dramatic example is the RNA skeleton of the ribosome, life’s ubiquitous protein factory. Here is what that looks like; the RNA is the winding turquoise-green part.
What else do you think are DNA and RNA are good for?