Making DNA art for DNA Day 2015

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Sandra Porter

National DNA Day has a fun challenge for teachers and classrooms using Pinterest.  Your class can join a larger, national, effort to create a National DNA Day Pinterest board by making your own class Pinterest board on DNA, genetics, and genomics.  Some possible topics are:

  • Things to do with DNA
  • DNA and health
  • DNA and the Arts
  • DNA in the News

We're really excited about the topic on DNA and the Arts! Here's how you can make some lovely DNA Art images for your Pinterest board in Molecule World on an iPad or, if you don't have access to an iPad, you can use Cn3D.   1.  Go to our DNA search at the NCBI. Right now, the molecular modeling database at the NCBI contains at least 4900 structures with DNA.  That makes plenty of molecules to choose from.   2.  Scroll through the list of structures or add terms to narrow your choices down.

  • You might look for special kinds of DNA, like A, B, or Z DNA.
  • Interesting structures like nucleosomes or telomeres are fun to view.
  • Or take a look at DNA in a complex with proteins like RNA polymerase or a drug.

  3.  When you pick a structure to view, click the link to see the structure record. DNA_record_drug   4.  Often, a structure record will contain links to articles about that structure.  When there aren't links, I just copy the title and do a Google search.  One of these will usually tell me something interesting about the structure. Citation_reference   5.  Then, I touch the View structure link to download the structure to my iPad. view_structure                 6.  And I open the structure in Molecule World. open_MW                 7.  You can see this structure (4MN8) below. variolin_b_MoleculeWorld                         8.  Once a structure is in Molecule World, you can touch the molecule icon to apply different drawing styles, show or hide different parts of the structure, or use different coloring styles to uncover interesting features of the structure. I chose "Space fill" as the drawing style and "Residue" as the coloring style.  This helps me see how the drug is inserted (or intercalated) between a cytosine and a guanine.   9.  When you have an image you like, you can touch the camera icon and save the image.  Or if your iPad is connected to a class Pinterest account, you can pin your image directly on your class Pinterest board as shown below. IMG_1201                   You can see how this looks and some other images we've captured from Molecule World on the Digital World Biology Pinterest page. See the NHGRI DNA Day 2015 page for instructions on how to participate. Molecule World is available in the iTunes app store.  For more information, see Digital World Biology.

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