DNA double helix structure models for study, research or display. Simple base pairing for beginners or advanced versions with >200,000 combinations of base sequences possible. Choose from 3 styles the one best suited for your needs in high school, university, industry or museum. Fully supported by science-trained sales staff with extra parts for any upgrades or kit augmentation.
Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) the ultimate information database, is the library of life’s blueprints. It constitutes the genetic code with all the instructions needed to produce & sustain virtually every lifeform on Earth.
DNA’s structure is both simple & complex at the same time. It is made up of only 5 of the 94 naturally occurring elements in the periodic table. Yet when carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen & phosphorus are combined into the billions of base sequences found in a typical genome, they account for life's inestimable diversity. Collectively, DNA & RNA are nucleic acids, one of 4 fundamental building blocks which includes proteins (amino acids), lipids (fatty acids) and carbohydrates (sugars & related compounds).
Knowing how these elements are put together is essential to understanding how the entire process works. This impacts our health benefits, reveals our ancestry and can even identify criminals. Simply viewing nucleotide sequences like ATCGGCATA… on a computer screen is not enough. Physical molecular models can help with the big picture.
The overall chemical structure of the DNA molecule is a polymer, consisting of two strands of polynucleotides, in turn made up of individual nucleotide monomers. The monomer building blocks are nitrogenous bases also known as nucleosides which come in 2 forms, purines & pyrimidines.
The pyrimidines, thymine, cytosine & uracil (in RNA only), are hexagonal (6-sided structures) rings. The purines, adenine & thyme are polycyclic rings (6 sides and 5 sides) that share a common side.
Each purine aligns with one corresponding pyrimidine to form a base pair. These are denoted AT & GC which when connected, create the base sequence which is the essence of the DNA structure. To this end, we offer DNA models in 3 styles with the base pairs shown immediately below.
Deoxyribose phosphate groups form the backbone of the DNA polymer. They are connected to each other via phosphodiester bonds between carbons designated 3' & 5'. These carbons are arranged antiparallel facing 3'-5' in one spiral & 5'-3' in the other. Antiparallel means one side of the sugar phosphates chain 3’ spirals upwards, the other side has 3’ chain spiralling downwards.The 1' carbons of the sugar rings are in turn connected to the N9 (nitrogen ) position of the purine rings and N1 (nitrogen) position of the pyrimidine rings.
Image from Review of the Universe,DNA: universe-review.ca
We offer 3 styles of DNA model each consisting of the 3 components that make up the monomer subunits of the DNA polymer. These are the nitrogenous base (nucleobase), a pentose sugar and a phosphate group. Each model style has its merits depending cost & how the model is to be used.
A fundamental feature of the B-DNA double helix is its major & minor grooves. These are formed by the asymmetry of the antiparallel helices. The 12/17/36 base pair models closely approximate the differences in their widths, 2.2nm vs 1.2nm for the major & minor grooves respectively. This aspect of the double helix structure is especially important as it illustrates why processes such as transcription are usually restricted to the major groove. This is further demonstrated by our complementary alpha helix models which easily fit the major but not the minor groove.
The 12 base pair model is our best teaching model. It was designed with the intent of assembly & reassembly by successive groups of students. We estimate that when used as an educational tool, the cost is $0.15 per student over the lifetime of the model.
The kit comes with 6 AT & 6 GC pairs which can be combined to show 262144 different DNA sequences. This alone makes it useful for illustrating the importance of species diversity. It also unique among models in having both common VSEPR geometries for carbon & nitrogen, as well as uncommon ones, to accurately build the conjoined polycyclic (5 & 6 member) purine rings.
2 important shortcuts are used to make this a practical teaching tool. Hydrogen atoms are not included since they do not contribute to the overall understanding of the structure. This helps reduce the cost of the model as well as eliminates unnecessary assembly time. Hydrogen bonds between complementary nucleotide bases are stylized for simplicity. All single and double covalent bonds are explicit and are used to make the antiparallel nature of the double helices obvious and assist in spotting final assembly errors.
The 17 & 36 base pair models are our most elegant and most versatile. They have been used in classrooms, TED lectures, presidential speeches & courtroom patent disputes. Some are on display in major biotech companies and still others have been gifted to retiring professors & benefactors. Arguably our most famous, it is also featured in the Big Bang Theory TV show.
These models show all the important structural features from base pair complementarity to accurately depicted major & minor grooves. The elements are color coded according to the standard scheme. Carbon is black, nitrogen is blue, oxygen is red, phosphorus is purple and hydrogen both univalent and divalent linear are white. The model style is semispacefilling, also referred to as "closed dome" with double bonds implied. This produces flattened rings which are firmly fixed to their respective plastic layers.
The 17 & 36 base models are made as chemically accurate as possible with multiple customizations. As such, they are only available assembled.
The miniDNA model is the simplest model to assemble & comes with a short set of instructions. The 6 different colors differentiate the 4 bases, deoxyribose & phosphate. It only allows bonding between adenine & thymine and guanine & cytosine ensuring base pair complementarity is straightforward. An individual should be able to build it under an hour.
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This scanning electron micrograph shows a human genome's complement of 46 chromosomes. Each of these chromosomes consists of chromatin, DNA strands and special accompanying "packaging" proteins called histones. Our entire genetic code is an instruction set contained in roughly 20,000 genes consisting of some 3 billion base pairs. These can be arranged with more possible combinations than stars in the known universe.
Information on DNA models, a testimonial & other DNA related stuff
The Best DNA Double Helix Structure Teaching Model. More on why the 12 base pair version is our best teaching model.
Best DNA Double Helix Teaching Tool. A testimonial from the school that bought 10 of the 12 base pair models.
DNA Model “Xmas” Tree. A sampling of places around the world using the Indigo® "Big Bang Theory DNA Model" for display.
Indigo® Big Bang Theory DNA Model; Then & Now. The first 17 base pair model (BBT precursor) went to Bell Labs in 2000.
Stereo image pair of the Indigo® Big Bang Theory DNA Model. If you can't see one for real, the next best thing.
World’s longest DNA sequence decoded, Our "BBT" model can be built 1.8x1016 different ways; best buy one while supplies last.
DNA’s Histone Spools Hint at How Complex Cells Evolved. DNA is more than just base pairs & sugar phosphates.
How mRNA and DNA vaccines could soon treat cancers, HIV, autoimmune disorders, genetic diseases. The revolution has just begun.
DNA Has Four Bases. Some Viruses Swap in a Fifth. A downside to diversity?
DNA of Giant ‘Corpse Flower’ Parasite Surprises Biologists. Jumping genes raise a stink?
Is it Possible to Recreate Dinosaurs from their DNA?. The race is on to build Jurassic Park or is it?