DNA modelDNA modelDNA Structure made with Jmol

An Interactive Animated Nonlinear Tutorial by Eric Martz
Adapted for using Jmol instead of Chime, by Angel Herráez
Part of Biomodel website by Angel Herráez, Univ. de Alcalá (Spain)

A. Double helix by element: base pairs, hydrogen bonding
DNA pairs
DNA pairs
B. The Code
DNA code
Explanation of codons and anticodons
C. Strands and helical backbone
DNA strands
D. Ends, Antiparallelism
DNA ends
Mirrored in the USA at Eric Martz's site.

This tutorial is designed to complement Biology or Biochemistry and Molecular Biology books, so it is not by itself a complete introduction to DNA structure.

Please, check the original source for more recent versions. You can also read the version history.

  1. This version works in any Java-compatible browser. Java Virtual Machine must be installed (JVM, included with some operating systems or available in Oracle's Java website).
    If you prefer to avoid Java, there is an alternative version using JSmol.
    Before proceeding, check that your browser has Java installed and can use the Jmol software:
    Jmol test
  2. This tutorial is designed to complement an introduction to DNA, by providing tools for a self-directed exploration. It does not tell a story (but does offer questions for students and a lesson plan for teachers). As a preamble to the tutorial below, or for a story that introduces DNA structure with interactive molecular graphics, we recommend More tutorials on DNA and proteins, in English, Spanish, etc., are indexed at molvisindex.org.
  3. The Animated Interactive Tutorial Pages (A, B, C, D): please visit the 4 sections in the colored panels.
  4. Questions for Students and a Lesson Plan for Teachers.
    More Molecules for High School Teachers.
  5. more on DNA More DNA Resources includes tutorials for high school students, college freshmen, interactive Shockwave simulations of agarose gel electrophoresis to learn about electrical charge of DNA, cutting with restriction endonucleases, etc.

You can request a copy of this tutorial for off-line use; once you have your own copy on your computer's hard disk, you can use it without an Internet connection (and it will run faster).

Methods, Acknowledgements, and References.

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More about Jmol: Jmol home page.

Creative Commons LicenseThe use of this work is subjected to the conditions stated on the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License (details)


This DNA Tutorial is being used in the Biomedical Sciences Curriculum developed by Project Lead The Way, Inc., a not-for-profit corporation that provides curriculum at no charge to high schools and middle schools located in the United States.

This DNA Tutorial (English and Spanish versions) has been included in BioMolecular Explorer 3D, version 2, a website+CD-ROM designed to give high school biology teachers easy access to interactive 3D structures of biologically significant molecules.

This DNA Tutorial (English and Spanish versions) has been included in the live bootable DVD – Xplora Knoppix, by Xplora - The European Science Education Gateway.


Version history