DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is the nucleic acid polymer that forms the genetic code for a cell or virus. Most DNA molecules consist of two polymers (double-stranded) of four nucleotides that each consist of a nucleobase, the carbohydrate deoxyribose and a phosphate group, where the carbohydrate and phosphate make up the backbone of the polymer.

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  • News and Views |

    Intertwining of DNA molecules frequently results in the formation of ‘ultrafine bridges’ between sister chromatids that need to be resolved during segregation of the chromatids into daughter cells. Although it has been established that these DNA bridges are coated by the helicase PICH, it has remained unknown how PICH assists in their resolution. A study now reveals that PICH directs the formation of positive DNA supercoiling in the presence of type I topoisomerases to promote the subsequent disentanglement of these DNA helices by type II topoisomerases. Remarkably, PICH might be able to reconfigure DNA topology by extruding loops of DNA while it moves along the double helix.

    • Shveta Bisht
    •  & Christian H. Haering
  • News and Views |

    Holliday junction resolvases lock dynamic DNA four-way junctions into specific structural conformations for symmetric DNA cleavage. Single-molecule studies now reveal that resolvases can relax their grip, enabling Holliday junction conformer transitions and branch migration in the enzyme-bound form.

    • Ulrich Rass