A new DNA structure inside human cells known as the “i-motif”, has been identified by scientists.
This form resembles a twisted “knot” of DNA, instead of the well-known double helix first described by James Watson and Francis Crick.
Lab work has previously suggested the existence of DNA in this form, but this is the first time it has been observed in living cells.
The scientists are not exactly sure what the function the i-motif is, but they suspect it is involved with the process of “reading” DNA sequences and converting them into useful substances.
“When most of us think of DNA, we think of the double helix,” said Professor Daniel Christ, a molecular biologist at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, who co-led the study describing the new findings.
“This new research reminds us that totally different DNA structures exist – and could well be important for our cells.”
While i-motifs have previously been observed under artificial conditions in laboratories, prior to this work it was unclear whether they existed in living cells.