Pulling on Hair(pins)

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Science  27 Apr 2001:
Vol. 292, Issue 5517, pp. 653-654
DOI: 10.1126/science.1060884

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Using single-molecule techniques, Liphardt et al. have analyzed the folding and unfolding reactions of a series of nested RNA molecules. In this Perspective, Fernandez et al. discuss the surprising observation that the smallest of these RNAs, a simple hairpin structure, undergoes an all-or-nothing transition between the folded and the unfolded state, rather than the RNA strands unzipping.