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J Mol Biol. 1997 Jun 27;269(5):827-41.

Sequence-dependent crossed helix packing in the crystal structure of a B-DNA decamer yields a detailed model for the Holliday junction.

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  • 1The CRC Biomolecular Structure Unit, The Institute of Cancer Research, Sutton, Surrey, UK.


The structure of the B-DNA decamer d(CGCAATTGCG)2 has been determined by X-ray diffraction analysis to a resolution of 2.3 A and an R-factor of 17.7%. The decamer crystallises in the monoclinic space group C2 and packs with a crossed arrangement of helices and a unique crossing contact distinct from all other decamer structures. This is believed to be a direct result of the sequence-dependent minor groove width of the duplex. Crossed helix structures of DNA are valuable starting points for modelling studies of the Holliday junction. Two unique sites are observed at the cross-over junction where strand exchange may occur. A Holliday junction model has been constructed for each case and modelled using molecular mechanics and dynamics techniques. One of these models was found to be fully consistent with the available physical data.

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