DNA replication begins with the "unzipping" of the parent molecule as the hydrogen bonds between the base pairs are broken, more?
DNA replication is the process of producing two identical copies from one original DNA molecule. This biological process occurs in all living organisms and is the basis for biological inheritance. DNA is composed of two strands and each strand of the original DNA molecule serves as template for the production of the complementary strand, a process referred to as semiconservative replication. Cellular proofreading and error-checking mechanisms ensure near perfect fidelity for DNA replication.
In a cell, DNA replication begins at specific locations, or origins of replication, in the genome. Unwinding of DNA at the origin and synthesis of new strands results in replication forks growing bidirectionally from the origin. A number of proteins are associated with the replication fork which assist in the initiation and continuation of DNA synthesis. Most prominently, DNA polymerase synthesizes the new DNA by adding complementary nucleotides to the template strand.
Base pairs are the building blocks of the DNA double helix, and contribute to the folded structure of both DNA and RNA. Dictated by specific hydrogen bonding patterns, Watson-Crick base pairs (guanine-cytosine and adenine-thymine) allow the DNA helix to maintain a regular helical structure that is independent of its nucleotide sequence. The complementary nature of this based-paired structure provides a backup copy of all genetic information encoded within double-stranded DNA. The regular structure and data redundancy provided by the DNA double helix make DNA well suited to the storage of genetic information, while base-pairing between DNA and incoming nucleotides provides the mechanism through which DNA polymerase replicates DNA, and RNA polymerase transcribes DNA into RNA. Many DNA-binding proteins can recognize specific base pairing patterns that identify particular regulatory regions of genes.
Intramolecular base pairs can occur within single-stranded nucleic acids. This is particularly important in RNA molecules (e.g., transfer RNA), where Watson-Crick base pairs (G-C and A-U) permit the formation of short double-stranded helices, and a wide variety of non-Watson-Crick interactions (e.g., G-U or A-A) allow RNAs to fold into a vast range of specific three-dimensional structures. In addition, base-pairing between transfer RNA (tRNA) and messenger RNA (mRNA) forms the basis for the molecular recognition events that result in the nucleotide sequence of mRNA becoming translated into the amino acid sequence of proteins.
A hydrogen bond is the electromagnetic attractive interaction between polar molecules in which hydrogen (H) is bound to a highly electronegative atom, such as nitrogen (N), oxygen (O) or fluorine (F). The name hydrogen bond is something of a misnomer, as it is not a true bond but a particularly strong dipole-dipole attraction, and should not be confused with a covalent bond.
These hydrogen-bond attractions can occur between molecules (intermolecular) or within different parts of a single molecule (intramolecular). The hydrogen bond (5 to 30 kJ/mole) is stronger than a van der Waals interaction, but weaker than covalent or ionic bonds. This type of bond can occur in inorganic molecules such as water and in organic molecules like DNA and proteins.
Prokaryotic DNA replication
Replication timing refers to the order in which segments of DNA along the length of a chromosome are duplicated.
DNA replication in prokaryotes is exemplified in E. coli. It is bi-directional and originates at a single origin of replication (OriC).
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