Illuminating DNA
Modelling DNA



PDF file (228 kb)



How to download these files

Illuminating DNA is available as downloadable Adobe Acrobat (PDF) files.

Details of how to obtain a free copy of the Adobe Acrobat Reader software are given here.


Model-making can help the understanding of the structure and function of DNA and proteins. Physical models, such as those which helped James Watson and Francis Crick to reveal the structure of DNA, or Linus Pauling the alpha helix of proteins, have been largely replaced by computer-generated images. Much of the software and necessary structure data is available free-of-charge from scientific and educational World Wide Web sites.

This section includes:

  • a cut-out paper model of DNA;
  • information about computer modelling software on the Web, including RASMOL and CHIME;
  • details of a jigsaw-like DNA model that is available from the NCBE.


These are links to the Web sites mentioned in the booklet, plus some others:

Ferry, G. (2000) Profile: Protein structure by numbers HMS Beagle, Issue 73, March 3.


Nucleic Acids

The Nucleic Acid Database / Musical Nucleic Acid Atlas

Structures for modern/cell biology
(the CHIME plug-in is needed to view these)

Protein Data Bank

POVCHEM (Ray-tracing software)

Swiss Pdb Viewer

Wilbert Garvin's DNA jigsaw model
NCBE Web site

DNA Music
If you're interesting in making 'music' from DNA or protein sequence data, try the following links:

Algorithmic arts

Windows software, samples in MP3 format and so on. Some of it is quite good - the alcohol dehydrogenase seems quite fitting.

Don't forget the Musical DNA Atlas at the Nucleic Acids Database at Rutgers University (mentioned above).

The Shamen's old album 'Axis Mutasis' has a track on it that is derived from sequence data for the S2 seratonin receptor - no prizes for guessing the chemical inspiration there!

Copyright National Centre for Biotechnology Education, 2006 |