DNA replication refers to a process by which two identical replicas are produced from a single original molecule of DNA. It is a biological process that occurs in living organisms. DNA replication forms the basis of biological inheritance. DNA refers to deoxyribonucleic acid. It determines the genetic composition of a living organism.
DNA comprises of two strands. Each strand of an original molecule of DNA acts as a template for production of a complementary strand. This process by which a complementary strand is produced from the original molecule of DNA is known as semi-conservative replication. An almost perfect fidelity in DNA replication is ensured by cellular error-checking and proofreading mechanisms.
DNA replication in the cell starts at certain locations or origins of the DNA replication. These locations are called the genome. DNA unwinding at the start of the origin as well as synthesis of the new strands produced replication forks which grow bidirectional from their origin. Several proteins are associated with replication fork and they help in the initiation as well as continuation of the DNA synthesis. DNA polymerase is the most dominant protein that synthesizes new DNA through additional of complementary nucleotides to template strand.
DNA replication may also occur in vitro or artificially not inside the cell. DNA polymerases that are isolated from the cells and the artificial DNA primers may be used in initiating the synthesis of DNA at the known sequences in the template molecule of DNA. The chain reaction of polymerase which is a popular laboratory technique can cyclically be applied to the artificial synthesis which amplifies specific target fragment of DNA from a DNA’s pool.
Replication of DNA in vitro is enhanced by the knowledge of DNA that scientists have. Usually, DNA exists in form of double-stranded structure. This structure has the strands coiled in a single structure forming a double helix which is the main characteristic of DNA. The single strands in the double-stranded structure are chains with four nucleotides types. The nucleotides have DNA that contains deoxyribose sugar, a nucleobase and a phosphate. These nucleotides correspond to four nucleobases adenine, guanine, thymine and cytosine. They are commonly abbreviated using the initials A, C, G and T.
The DNA strands have directionality and their ends differ for each strand. To ensure that there is no mix-up of DNA; DNA polymerase is the enzymes’ family that performs all types of DNA replication. Generally, DNA polymerase is not able to initiate synthesis of a new strand of DNA but it can extend the existing strand of DNA.
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