Nucleic acid double helix

In molecular biology, the term double helix[1] refers to the structure formed by double-stranded molecules of nucleic acids such as DNA. The double helical structure of a nucleic acid complex arises as a consequence of its secondary structure, and is a fundamental component in determining its tertiary structure. The term entered popular culture with the publication in 1968 of The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA by James Watson.

Two complementary regions of nucleic acid molecules will bind and form a double helical structure held together by base pairs.

The DNA double helix biopolymer of nucleic acid is held together by nucleotides which base pair together.[2] In B-DNA, the most common double helical structure found in nature, the double helix is right-handed with about 1010.5 base pairs per turn.[3] The double helix structure of DNA contains a major groove and minor groove. In B-DNA the major groove is wider than the minor groove.[2] Given the difference in widths of the major groove and minor groove, many proteins which bind to B-DNA do so through the wider major groove.[4]


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