DATABASE: Reading the Crystals

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Science  20 Dec 2002:
Vol. 298, Issue 5602, pp. 2289
DOI: 10.1126/science.298.5602.2289c

Using x-ray crystallography, scientists have sedulously mapped the structures of different kinds of DNA, RNA, and other molecules that contain nucleic acids. Search and analyze results from nearly 2000 such studies at the Nucleic Acid Database Project (NDB), hosted by Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey.

Stashed here are structural data for short strands of DNA and various types of RNA, such as transfer RNAs that shuttle amino acids around the cell. Much of the same information, such as atomic coordinates, original citations, and molecular images, can be obtained from the Protein Data Bank (Science, 9 July 1999, p. 163). But NDB's analyses furnish more detail about the geometry of the molecules. “It's meant especially for people who are studying nucleic acids,” says Helen Berman, who supervises both collections. You can try out a beta site that's easier to navigate and features snazzier graphics.

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