Circular Dichroism of Biological Macromolecules

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Science  09 Dec 1966:
Vol. 154, Issue 3754, pp. 1288-1299
DOI: 10.1126/science.154.3754.1288


Circular dichroism, the unequal absorption of right and left circularly polarized light, is a manifestation of optical activity in the vicinity of absorption bands. To the experimental scientist interested in the conformation of macromolecules and in the sensitive response of optical activity to conformational alteration, it offers a relatively new and powerful means of understanding the environment of chromophoric residues. As a tool in the elucidation of electronic spectra, it should be useful to the theoretical scientist in identifying weakly allowed absorption bands as well as in providing rotational parameters which can be compared with the developing theory of optical activity. I have stressed application of circular dichroism, to experimental aspects of protein and nucleic acid conformation in solution. Much is still uncertain in particular quantitative details. However, even these early results shed new light and yield new information on the conformation of these molecules.