Related topics: genome

Even good gene edits can go bad

A Rice University lab is leading the effort to reveal potential threats to the efficacy and safety of therapies based on CRISPR-Cas9, the Nobel Prize-winning gene editing technique, even when it appears to be working as planned.

The cell sentinel that neutralizes hepatitis B

The hepatitis B virus (HBV) is responsible for one of the most serious and common infectious diseases. Transmitted through biological fluids, it attacks the liver cells. The chronic form of the disease can lead to serious ...

A new way to produce pheromones as a crop pest repellent

A team of researchers from Sweden, China and the U.S. has developed a much cheaper way to produce pheromones as a crop pest repellent. In their paper published in the journal Nature Sustainability, the group describes how ...

Structural and mechanistic insight into DNA repair

DNA double-strand breaks are one of the biggest threats to the genome and a driving force of carcinogenesis. Cellular repair mechanisms such as homologous recombination are essential for the maintenance of genome stability ...

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DNA

Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms and some viruses. The main role of DNA molecules is the long-term storage of information. DNA is often compared to a set of blueprints or a recipe, or a code, since it contains the instructions needed to construct other components of cells, such as proteins and RNA molecules. The DNA segments that carry this genetic information are called genes, but other DNA sequences have structural purposes, or are involved in regulating the use of this genetic information.

Chemically, DNA consists of two long polymers of simple units called nucleotides, with backbones made of sugars and phosphate groups joined by ester bonds. These two strands run in opposite directions to each other and are therefore anti-parallel. Attached to each sugar is one of four types of molecules called bases. It is the sequence of these four bases along the backbone that encodes information. This information is read using the genetic code, which specifies the sequence of the amino acids within proteins. The code is read by copying stretches of DNA into the related nucleic acid RNA, in a process called transcription.

Within cells, DNA is organized into X-shaped structures called chromosomes. These chromosomes are duplicated before cells divide, in a process called DNA replication. Eukaryotic organisms (animals, plants, fungi, and protists) store most of their DNA inside the cell nucleus and some of their DNA in the mitochondria (animals and plants) and chloroplasts (plants only). Prokaryotes (bacteria and archaea) however, store their DNA in the cell's cytoplasm. Within the chromosomes, chromatin proteins such as histones compact and organize DNA. These compact structures guide the interactions between DNA and other proteins, helping control which parts of the DNA are transcribed.

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