Thursday, March 17, 2016

Taber's Medical Dictionary :Structure and Function of DNA

[Abbr. of deoxyribonucleic acid] 
A complex nucleic acid of high molecular weight consisting of nucleotides made of deoxyribose, phosphoric acid, and one of four bases (two purines, adenine [A] and guanine [G], and two pyrimidines, thymine [T] and cytosine [C]). The nucleotides are arranged in a double helix (two long spirals twisting around each other) joined by hydrogen bonds between the complementary base pairs A-T and C-G. Nucleic acid, present in chromosomes of the nuclei of cells, is the chemical basis of heredity and the carrier of genetic information for all organisms except the RNA viruses.

Ancient DNA:
complementary DNA
A double-stranded copy of a single-stranded RNA molecule, made by reverse transcriptase, an enzyme used by retroviruses such as HIV-1.

Covalently closed circular DNA:

Fecal DNA:
Traces of nucleic acids found in the stool of people with colorectal cancers and polyps. Testing for tumor DNA in stool has been proposed as a means of screening for colorectal cancer. 
SYN: SEE: stool DNA testing

Mitochondrial DNA:
ABBR: mtDNA DNA found in mitochondria. It differs from nuclear DNA in its nucleotide sequences, its size (about 16.5 kb), and its source (it is derived solely from the ovum, not the sperm). Variations in mtDNA point to the ways in which members of a related population differ from each other genetically.

Naked DNA:
DNA that has been modified to remove the proteins that normally surround it. It is used for genetic transfers and vaccine manufacture.

Recombinant DNA:
Segments of DNA from one organism artificially manipulated or inserted into the DNA of another organism through gene splicing. When the host's genetic material is reproduced, the transplanted genetic material is also copied. Gene splicing permits isolation and examination of the properties and action of specific genes. 
SEE: plasmid; SEE: gene splicing

Spacer DNA:
SEE: Spacer sequence.
SEE: chromosome; SEE: gene; SEE: RNA; SEE: virus

For a non-technical introduction to the topic, see Introduction to genetics. For other uses, see DNA (disambiguation).

The structure of the DNA double helix. The atoms in the structure are colour-coded by element and the detailed structure of two base pairs are shown in the bottom right.

The structure of part of a DNA double helix:
Deoxyribonucleic acid is a molecule that carries most of the genetic instructions used in the development, functioning and reproduction of all known living organisms and many viruses. DNA is a nucleic acid; alongside proteins and carbohydrates, nucleic acids compose the three major macromolecules essential for all known forms of life. Most DNA molecules consist of two biopolymer strands coiled around each other to form a double helix. The two DNA strands are known as polynucleotides since they are composed of simpler units called nucleotides.Each nucleotide is composed of a nitrogen-containing nucleobase—either cytosine (C), guanine (G), adenine (A), or thymine (T)—as well as a monosaccharide sugar called deoxyribose and a phosphate group. The nucleotides are joined to one another in a chain by covalent bonds between the sugar of one nucleotide and the phosphate of the next, resulting in an alternating sugar-phosphate backbone. According to base pairing rules (A with T, and C with G), hydrogen bonds bind the nitrogenous bases of the two separate polynucleotide strands to make double-stranded DNA. The total amount of related DNA base pairs on Earth is estimated at 5.0 x 1037, and weighs 50 billion tonnes.In comparison, the total mass of the biosphere has been estimated to be as much as 4 TtC (trillion tons of carbon).

DNA stores biological information. The DNA backbone is resistant to cleavage, and both strands of the double-stranded structure store the same biological information. Biological information is replicated as the two strands are separated. A significant portion of DNA (more than 98% for humans) is non-coding, meaning that these sections do not serve as patterns for protein sequences.

The two strands of DNA run in opposite directions to each other and are therefore anti-parallel. Attached to each sugar is one of four types of nucleobases (informally, bases). It is the sequence of these four nucleobases along the backbone that encodes biological information. Under the genetic code, RNA strands are translated to specify the sequence of amino acids within proteins. These RNA strands are initially created using DNA strands as a template in a process called transcription.

Within cells, DNA is organized into long structures called chromosomes. During cell division these chromosomes are duplicated in the process of DNA replication, providing each cell its own complete set of chromosomes. Eukaryotic organisms (animals, plants, fungi, and protists) store most of their DNA inside the cell nucleus and some of their DNA in organelles, such as mitochondria or chloroplasts.In contrast, prokaryotes (bacteria and archaea) store their DNA only in the 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.

DNA was first isolated by Friedrich Miescher in 1869. Its molecular structure was identified by James Watson and Francis Crick in 1953, whose model-building efforts were guided by X-ray diffraction data acquired by Rosalind Franklin. DNA is used by researchers as a molecular tool to explore physical laws and theories, such as the ergodic theorem and the theory of elasticity. The unique material properties of DNA have made it an attractive molecule for material scientists and engineers interested in micro- and nano-fabrication. Among notable advances in this field are DNA origami and DNA-based hybrid materials.