Nucleic acid quaternary structure

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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,[1] including its interactions with histones. It may also refer to the interactions between separate RNA units in the ribosome[2][3] or spliceosome. The term has also been used to describe the hierarchical assembly of artificial nucleic acid building blocks used in DNA nanotechnology.[4]


  1. ^ Sipski, M. Leonide; Wagner, Thomas E. (1977). "Probing DNA quaternary ordering with circular dichroism spectroscopy: Studies of equine sperm chromosomal fibers". Biopolymers 16 (3): 573–82. doi:10.1002/bip.1977.360160308. PMID 843604. 
  2. ^ Noller, H F (1984). "Structure of Ribosomal RNA". Annual Review of Biochemistry 53: 119–62. doi:10.1146/ PMID 6206780. 
  3. ^ Nissen, P.; Ippolito, JA; Ban, N; Moore, PB; Steitz, TA (2001). "RNA tertiary interactions in the large ribosomal subunit: The A-minor motif". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 98 (9): 4899–903. doi:10.1073/pnas.081082398. PMC 33135. PMID 11296253. 
  4. ^ Chworos, Arkadiusz; Jaeger, Luc (2007). "Nucleic acid foldamers: design, engineering and selection of programmable biomaterials with recognition, catalytic and self-assembly properties". In Hecht, Stefan; Huc, Ivan. Foldamers: Structure, Properties, and Applications. Weinheim: Wiley-VCH-Verl. pp. 298–299. ISBN 978-3-527-31563-5.