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New DNA structure inside human cells known as the “i-motif” has been identified (independent.co.uk)
49 points by mudil 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 13 comments

so many of the misleading headlines on this topic could be fixed by saying "confirmed" instead of "discovered", or "identified"

Yes, the real discovery is the detection technology.

So much of molecular biology and computational biology is tool building, so that one can see things that were not visible before. As Feynman said nearly 60 years ago:

>We have friends in other fields – in biology, for instance. We physicists often look at them and say, "You know the reason you fellows are making so little progress?" (Actually I don't know any field where they are making more rapid progress than they are in biology today.) "You should use more mathematics, like we do." They could answer us – but they're polite, so I'll answer for them: "What you should do in order for us to make more rapid progress is to make the electron microscope 100 times better."


Single-cell sequencing, ATAC-seq, HI-C, ChIP-seq, and all the other new technologies or old technologies like the antibody in this paper, these are all attempts at getting towards that 100x better electron microscope.

really insightful response, thanks!

(aside: wow, Feynman really is the gift that keeps on giving...)

Seems more like a ~pantry~ for DNA synthesis than anything functional, especially given its four strands make for difficult reaction kinetics.

Maybe imotif acts similarly to proteins.

Maybe proteins exist with binding pockets that recognize both the secondary and primary structure of imotifs.

primary structure = linear sequence of DNA letters secondary structure = DNA folding in on itself, like proteins

Proteins vary wildly in structure, size and chemistry, these things seem to be rather similar so far chemically "boring".

Ha. Short strings of DNA, "chemically boring". Nothing to see here. Probably just junk.

Compared to proteins (20+ amino acids, inclusions of non-aminoacid structures such as heme), yes, quite boring.

But folding now. Interesting. We don't know what will happen. You should keep an open mind.

Few things can "open one's mind" like an angry prion.

Ha. I'd actually laugh if it wasnt so tragic.

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