DNA Actually Looks Like A Big Ball Of Yarn

It's not the shape you thought.
DNA Actually Looks Like A Big Ball Of Yarn

Textbooks have taught us that DNA is structured like a long, winding staircase. But we haven't known what it actually looks like — until now.

Scientists created the first 3-D structures of intact genomes — complete sets of DNA as they actually look in the cell. The images show how DNA folds to fit inside a cell's nucleus, which makes it look more like a wadded-up ball than the spiral strand we're used to seeing.

The 3-D structures add to previous research about how cells tightly wind DNA in order to fit it inside. 

It's a delicate process. Each DNA molecule is about 6 feet long, but cells have to cram DNA into a tiny area without tangling it so that DNA can unfold and refold when cells read their genes.

The researchers say knowing exactly how DNA folds inside the cell will give them a better understanding of how specific genes interact and how the cell functions.

Featured Stories
Former President Barack Obama

The Fight To Repeal Obamacare Might Not Be Over

Jarred Vanderbilt after winning the FIBA Championship

This Top-25 High School Basketball Player Told Us Why He's Next Up

A lesbian couple hold hands during a gay Pride rally.

LGBTQ Groups Are Upset The 2020 Census Is Leaving Them Out