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Nat Rev Genet. 2003 Jul;4(7):566-72.

Timeline: Z-DNA: the long road to biological function.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Room 68-233, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA.


Biologists were puzzled by the discovery of left-handed Z-DNA because it seemed unnecessary. Z-DNA was stabilized by the negative supercoiling generated by transcription, which indicated a transient localized conformational change. Few laboratories worked on the biology of Z-DNA. However, the discovery that certain classes of proteins bound to Z-DNA with high affinity and great specificity indicated a biological role. The most recent data show that some of these proteins participate in the pathology of poxviruses.

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