Credit: Jack Griffith, PhD, and the Griffith Lab, UNC Lineberger

Today is National DNA Day, which commemorates the publication of the first scientific papers to explain the structure of DNA in 1953.

In the cell, DNA is never alone. It is always complexed with proteins that help replicate the genetic code, to generate RNA – the language of proteins – or help the DNA combine with other molecules.

In this electron microscopy image from the laboratory of UNC Lineberger’s Jack Griffith, PhD, a bundle of human DNA is bound by the recA protein, which coats the DNA and allows it to interact and combine with genetic information from other similar DNA molecules.

Griffith is the Kenan Distinguished Professor in the UNC School of Medicine Department of Microbiology and Immunology and Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics. He has conducted extensive research utilizing high-resolution electron microscopy to visualize protein-DNA interactions.