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In their model, electrostatic forces caused the electron clouds of adjacent base pairs to interact with each other, an essential prerequisite for entanglement to occur. Each cloud has the largest effect on its neighbours, with its influence dropping with distance.
When the researchers analysed the DNA without its helical structure, they found that the electron clouds were not entangled. But when they incorporated DNA's helical structure into the model, they saw that the electron clouds of each base pair became entangled with those of its neighbours (arxiv.org/abs/1006.4053v1). "If you didn't have entanglement, then DNA would have a simple flat structure, and you would never get the twist that seems to be important to the functioning of DNA,"
To better understand the significance of entanglement to DNA's stability, the quantum effect "should be compared to other factors that are known to stabilise DNA structure and give the molecule its functionality", Aksimentiev says.