Sunday, May 3, 2009

Two 3DNA figures made into a textbook on structural biology

Last week, while browsing, I came across the "Textbook Of Structural Biology" by Anders Liljas. It reminded me of the request we received from Dr. Liljas a while ago, asking for permission to use two figures from 3DNA (v1.5) website, which, of course, we happily granted.

The two figures as they appear in the textbook are shown in the left and right
respectively. Historically, they both first appeared in the 3DNA v1.5 website and later on were adapted into our 3DNA 2003 NAR paper, which is now taken as the "official" source for citation. The figure illustrating nucleic acid structural parameters (left) was also put into our 3DNA 2008 Nature Protocols publication, and the figure showing the roll-slide effects on regular DNA structures (right) was based on the classic work of Calladine & Drew, and could be traced back to my SCHNArP paper published in JMB.

In retrospect, it took me two weeks to produce the figure illustrating various DNA structural parameters (left)
-- in ~20% of the time, I got over 80% right, and it was the remaining 20% that took most time. It is the details that count!

Over the past twenty years, there have been numerous versions of such illustration images, with nearly each publication/author having its own. While looking similar, they are all subtly different due to lack of precise control of the value, orientation and relative scale of the illustrated parameters. To get it consistently and rigorously (reproducibly), a pragmatic approach must be taken, and that is where 3DNA shines.

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