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DNA Origami

Step-by-step instructions and printable folding paper included in the downloadable document.

You may recognize DNA as one of the most well-known biological structures. But what better way to understand the actual twists, turns and rules of base-pairing than to make you own 3D origami model?

The most common shape of DNA in living cells is a right-handed double helix called B-DNA. This structure was first famously proposed by Francis Crick and James Watson, based upon results from nearly two years of work and was partly based on X-ray diffraction data from their colleagues Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin. The downloadable version we have created is the right-handed version.

However, DNA can also form two other shapes!

A-DNA is also right-handed helical structure, but is shorter and wider, and is usually found in dehydrated samples of DNA. Z-DNA is another unusual version, where DNA takes a left-handed shape. It is a temporary phase, existing in response to certain cellular activities, such as when certain genes are being transcribed into proteins.


View the video to learn how to make the model.


DNA origami is based upon a design created by Alex Bateman of EMBL-EBI.

Last updated: April 3, 2023