The quaternary structure of a nucleic acid refers to the interactions between separate nucleic acid molecules, or between nucleic acid molecules and proteins. The concept is analogous to protein quaternary structure, but as the analogy is not perfect, the term is used to refer to a number of different concepts in nucleic acids and is less commonly encountered.
Quaternary structure can refer to the higher-level organization of DNA in chromatin, including its interactions with histones. It may also refer to the interactions between separate RNA units in the ribosome or spliceosome. The term has also been used to describe the hierarchical assembly of artificial nucleic acid building blocks used in DNA nanotechnology.
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