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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1990 Apr;87(7):2526-30.

Molecular structure of nicked DNA: a substrate for DNA repair enzymes.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge 02139.


The molecular structure of a nicked dodecamer DNA double helix, made of a ternary system containing d(CGCGAAAACGCG) + d(CGCGTT) + d(TTCGCG) oligonucleotides, has been determined by x-ray diffraction analysis at 3 A resolution. The molecule adopts a B-DNA conformation, not unlike those found in intact dodecamer DNA molecules crystallized in a somewhat different crystal lattice, despite a gap due to the absence of a phosphate group in the molecule. The helix has a distinct narrow minor groove near the center of the molecule at the AAAA region. This suggests that the internal stabilizing forces due to base stacking and hydrogen-bonding interactions are sufficient to overcome the loss of connectivity associated with the disruption of the covalent backbone of DNA.

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