LOS ANGELES, Aug 1 — Scientists in California have revealed for the first time the three-dimensional structure of DNA in living human cells.

The researchers identified a novel DNA dye that allowed them an unprecedented view of the 3D structure of human chromatin — the combination of DNA and proteins — in the cell’s nucleus.

“So what we did is we identified a fluorescent DNA binding dye that when you shine light on it, it has this really amazing property which is that it catalyses a metal polymer cast across the surface of DNA and chromosomes in the nucleus that enables it to be visualised,” Clodagh O’shea, associate professor of molecular and cell biology at the salk institute, who led the research, said.

When viewed through an electon microscope using an advanced technique that tilts the DNA samples in an electron beam, the three-dimensional structure of both resting and dividing cells can be seen.

The researchers say the discovery could help rewrite the textbook model of DNA organisation, help scientists understand how genetic information is inherited and even change how they approach treatments for disease. — Reuters