Cholesteric liquid crystalline DNA; a comparative analysis of cryofixation methods



Summary— The ultrastructure of liquid crystalline phases of DNA raises numerous problems because of the structure itself which is fluid and which nature depends on the relative amount of DNA, water and ions. Different cryofixation methods were tested and compared after freeze-fracture of the specimen. A good ultrastructural preservation of the samples can be achieved without addition of any cryoprotectant by quick-freezing against a copper block cooled down to liquid helium temperature. Then, molecular orientations can be followed very accurately and the local disorder around a mean direction which exists in the liquid state is kept in the frozen structure.