The multiple personalities of Watson and Crick strands

Reed Cartwright, Dan Graur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: In genetics it is customary to refer to double-stranded DNA as containing a "Watson strand" and a "Crick strand." However, there seems to be no consensus in the literature on the exact meaning of these two terms, and the many usages contradict one another as well as the original definition. Here, we review the history of the terminology and suggest retaining a single sense that is currently the most useful and consistent.Proposal: The Saccharomyces Genome Database defines the Watson strand as the strand which has its 5'-end at the short-arm telomere and the Crick strand as its complement. The Watson strand is always used as the reference strand in their database. Using this as the basis of our standard, we recommend that Watson and Crick strand terminology only be used in the context of genomics. When possible, the centromere or other genomic feature should be used as a reference point, dividing the chromosome into two arms of unequal lengths. Under our proposal, the Watson strand is standardized as the strand whose 5'-end is on the short arm of the chromosome, and the Crick strand as the one whose 5'-end is on the long arm. Furthermore, the Watson strand should be retained as the reference (plus) strand in a genomic database. This usage not only makes the determination of Watson and Crick unambiguous, but also allows unambiguous selection of reference stands for genomics.Reviewers: This article was reviewed by John M. Logsdon, Igor B. Rogozin (nominated by Andrey Rzhetsky), and William Martin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7
JournalBiology Direct
Volume6
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 8 2011
Externally publishedYes

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Multiple Personality Disorder
Genomics
genomics
terminology
Databases
Terminology
Chromosomes
Chromosome
chromosomes
chromosome
Saccharomyces
Centromere
telomeres
Telomere
centromeres
Reference Point
Consensus
complement
DNA
Genes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Cite this

The multiple personalities of Watson and Crick strands. / Cartwright, Reed; Graur, Dan.

In: Biology Direct, Vol. 6, 7, 08.02.2011.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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