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December 06, 2006

First molecular simulation of a long DNA strand shows unexpected flexibility

Virginia Tech researchers used novel methodology and the university’s System X supercomputer to carry out what is probably the first simulation that explores full range of motions of a DNA strand of 147 base pairs, the length that is required to form the fundamental unit of DNA packing in the living cells -- the nucleosome.

The result of finding more flexibility in DNA is interesting, but even more so is the computing power and the methodology have come to the point where molecular simulations can fully probe biology on timescales very relevant to living things – such as DNA packing. Molecular simulations are also relevant to advancing molecular nanotechnology.

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