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Letters to Nature
Nature 339, 484 - 486 (08 June 1989); doi:10.1038/339484a0

Scanning tunnelling microscopy of Z-DNA

Patricia G. Arscott*, Gil Lee, Victor A. Bloomfield* & D. Fennell Evans

* Department of Biochemistry, 1479 Gortner Avenue, University of Minnesota, St Paul, Minnesota 55108, USA
Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, and Interfacial Sciences Center, Shepherd Laboratory, 100 Union Street S.E., University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455, USA

SCANNING tunnelling microscopy (STM) has been used to map the surface topography of inorganic materials at the atomic level, and is potentially one of the most powerful techniques for probing biomolecular structure1–3. Recent STM studies of calf thymus DNA4,5and poly(rA) · poly(rU)5 have shown that the helical pitch and periodic alternation of major and minor grooves can be visualized and reliably measured. Here we present the first STM images of poly(dG-me5d) · poly(dG-me5dC) in the Z-form. Both the general appearance of the fibres and measurements of helical parameters are in good agreement with models derived from X-ray diffraction6–4.

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