The art of folding DNA

The tens of billions of cells in our bodies each contain a two-metre-long strand of DNA. Before a cell can divide, the DNA has to be copied. That will only happen if that long string is first carefully folded. How that transpires has now been determined for the first time by scientists working under biophysicist Cees Dekker (TU Delft).

Condensin (the green circles in the drawing) pulls the strand of DNA into neat loops, which can be copied.

We already knew that the ring-shaped protein condensin played a key role in the folding process. The researchers released this protein onto a strand of fluorescent DNA that was attached to a glass plate. They discovered that condensin binds to the strand of DNA, after which it pulls the rest of the strand through itself. This creates loops, which are arranged neatly in a row. The scientists have thus solved one of the mysteries of how DNA works. This knowledge will enable us to better understand why cell division sometimes goes wrong. These errors can lead to cancer and other diseases.

Read more in ExperimentNL

Inside art

No one would think of cutting or sawing through an art treasure to examine it. But now it’s possible with a new 3D X-ray scanner that penetrates deep inside art objects.


Anyone reading this is (not) crazy

A major population study has revealed that there’s a vast grey area between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ mental health.


Bye-bye battery

Do you have a pacemaker? Then you need regular surgery to replace the battery. Researchers at TU Delft are working on a technique that should make battery-free pacemakers possible.


Gas meter in space

A new monitoring instrument on a satellite makes the status of air pollution and climate change on Earth painfully clear.


Tomorrow's greenhouse

A climate system that determines the temperature of each individual branch and LED lighting instead of ‘regular’ lamps: the greenhouse of the future isn’t only smarter, it’s also greener.


Setting up shop

Shopping isn’t a modern phenomenon. The Romans were already doing it. In fact, they invented the shop as we know it.


Ocean expedition

 

How are the seven seas doing? A large group of scientists joined the research ship Pelagia to find out.


Darwin in a drop of water

Lifeless molecules are reproducing in a Groningen lab. They’re also engaged in speciation. Until very recently that kind of behaviour had only been observed in living organisms.


The new smoking?

Sitting is really bad for you. At least that’s what we’ve been told lately. It’s even being compared to smoking. Is sitting really that unhealthy?