Related topics: genes · protein · cells · genome · chromosomes

Capabilities of CRISPR gene editing expanded

Many basic and clinical researchers are testing the potential of a simple and efficient gene editing approach to study and correct disease-causing mutations for conditions ranging from blindness to cancer, but the technology ...

How trans fats assist cell death

Tohoku University researchers in Japan have uncovered a molecular link between some trans fats and a variety of disorders, including cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. Their findings, published in the journal ...

Images reveal how bacteria form communities on the human tongue

Using a recently developed fluorescent imaging technique, researchers in the United States have developed high-resolution maps of microbial communities on the human tongue. The images, presented March 24 in the journal Cell ...

eDNA provides researchers with 'more than meets the eye'

Researchers from Curtin University have used next generation DNA sequencing to learn more about the different species of plants, insects and animals present in the Pilbara and Perth regions of Western Australia.

Crumpled graphene makes ultra-sensitive cancer DNA detector

Graphene-based biosensors could usher in an era of liquid biopsy, detecting DNA cancer markers circulating in a patient's blood or serum. But current designs need a lot of DNA. In a new study, crumpling graphene makes it ...

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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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