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Low-frequency electromagnetic (EM) fields react with many cellular systems. One important interaction is the stress response, a protective mechanism in reaction to potentially harmful stimuli in the environment. The stress response is characterized by the synthesis of stress proteins, a complex process that requires activation of DNA. Induction of this response by EM fields may be initiated by direct interaction of the fields with moving electrons in DNA. This mechanism is physically reasonable, and interactions between EM fields and electron transfer have been shown to occur in several simpler molecular systems. Additional support for the idea of direct interaction of EM fields with DNA is identification of a specific DNA sequence that can promote an EM-field response when it is normally present or artificially introduced. The protective stress response and the EM-field-specific DNA sequence lend themselves to biomedical applications in cardiac surgery and gene therapy.