Special Issue: A, B and Z: The Structure, Function and Genetics of Z-DNA and Z-RNA
It is now difficult to believe that a biological function for the left-handed Z-DNA and Z-RNA conformations was once controversial. The papers in this Special Issue, "Z-DNA and Z-RNA: from Physical Structure to Biological Function", are based on presentations at the ABZ2021 meeting that was held virtually on 19 May 2021 and provide evidence for several biological functions of these structures. The first of its kind, this international conference gathered over 200 scientists from many disciplines to specifically address progress in research involving Z-DNA and Z-RNA. These high-energy left-handed conformers of B-DNA and A-RNA are associated with biological functions and disease outcomes, as evidenced from both mouse and human genetic studies. These alternative structures, referred to as "flipons", form under physiological conditions, regulate type I interferon responses and induce necroptosis during viral infection. They can also stimulate genetic instability, resulting in adaptive evolution and diseases such as cancer. The meeting featured cutting-edge science that was, for the most part, unpublished. We plan for the ABZ meeting to reconvene in 2022.