Dear Social Media, Get DNA Chirality *Right*

The Authorea Team

DNA stands for Deoxyribonucleic Acid. It is the molecule of life and it is being abused.

Abused not by PCR machines and sloppy grad student's in labs but by journalists, designers, and many others on social media.

How is it being misrepresented? Like people, DNA has a handedness (right handed vs left handed), or in scientific jargon chirality.  DNA is right-handed, meaning it twists up and to the right.  It may not be obvious from just looking at the double helix but it's all in the twist. See image below.
Left-handed helix (on the left) versus right-handed helix (on the right). Image from Lehninger et al. (1993)
So the next time you are designing a poster for a seminar, a picture for an infographic, tweeting about the "DNA of your brand," or putting it on the cover of one of the world's oldest scientific journals (Eisen 2010) Do everyone a favor and make sure the chirality is.... right!  

*Rosalind Franklin was integral to the discovery of the structure of DNA.  She deserves more than a footnote in scientific the the history books of scientific discovery.


  1. Michael Eisen. DNA dealt wrong hand on cover. Nature 467, 401–401 Nature Publishing Group, 2010. Link

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