9.2: DNA Replication (2023)

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    When a cell divides, it is important that each daughter cell receives an identical copy of its DNA. This is achieved through the process of DNA replication. DNA replication occurs during the synthesis phase or S phase of the cell cycle, before the cell enters mitosis or meiosis.

    The elucidation of the structure of the double helix provided a clue as to how DNA is copied. Let's not forget that adenine nucleotides come together with thymine nucleotides and cytosine with guanine. This means that the two strands are complementary to each other. For example, a DNA strand with the nucleotide sequence AGTCATGA will have a complementary strand with the sequence TCAGTACT (Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\)).

    9.2: DNA Replication (2)

    Due to the complementarity of the two threads, having one thread means that it is possible to recreate another thread. This replication model suggests that the two strands of the double helix separate during replication and that each strand serves as a template from which a new complementary strand is copied (Figure \(\PageIndex{2}\)).

    9.2: DNA Replication (3)

    During DNA replication, each of the two strands that make up the double helix serves as a template from which new strands are copied. The new thread will be an addition to the parent or "old" thread. Each new double strand consists of one parent strand and one new daughter strand. This is known as semi-conservative replication. When two copies of DNA are formed, they have an identical sequence of nucleotide bases and are divided equally into two daughter cells.

    DNA replication in eukaryotes

    Since eukaryotic genomes are very complex, DNA replication is a very complicated process involving various enzymes and other proteins. It occurs in three main stages: initiation, elongation, and termination.

    Recall that eukaryotic DNA is bound to proteins known as histones to form structures called nucleosomes. During initiation, DNA becomes accessible to proteins and enzymes involved in the replication process. How does the replication mechanism know where on the DNA double helix it begins? It turns out that there are specific sequences of nucleotides called origins of replication where replication begins. Certain proteins bind to the origin of replication, while an enzyme called helicase unwinds and uncoils the DNA helix. As the DNA unfolds, Y-shaped structures called replication forks form (Figure \(\PageIndex{3}\)). Two replication forks form at the beginning of replication, which lengthen in both directions as replication progresses. There are multiple sources of replication on a eukaryotic chromosome, so replication can occur simultaneously from different places in the genome.

    (Video) 9.2: DNA Replication

    During elongation, an enzyme called DNA polymerase adds DNA nucleotides to the 3' end of the template. Because DNA polymerase can add new nucleotides only at the end of the backbone, the primer sequence, which provides this starting point, is supplemented with complementary RNA nucleotides. This primer is later removed and the nucleotides are replaced with DNA nucleotides. One strand, complementary to the original DNA strand, is continuously synthesized in the direction of the replication fork, allowing the polymerase to add nucleotides in that direction. This continuously synthesized strand is known as the leading strand. Because DNA polymerase can only synthesize DNA in the 5' to 3' direction, the second new strand assembles into short pieces called Okazaki fragments. Each of the Okazaki fragments needs a primer of RNA to start synthesis. A strand with Okazaki fragments is known as a lagging strand. As synthesis progresses, the enzyme removes the RNA primer, which is then replaced by DNA nucleotides, and the gaps between the fragments are closed by an enzyme called DNA ligase.

    The process of DNA replication can be summarized as follows:

    1. At the beginning of replication, the DNA is unwound.
    2. New bases are added to complementary parent strands. A new strand is made continuously, while the other strand is made in pieces.
    3. The primers are removed, new DNA nucleotides are inserted in place of the primers, and the backbone is sealed with DNA ligase.


    9.2: DNA Replication (4)

    You have isolated a cell strain in which the connection of Okazaki fragments has been disrupted and you suspect that there is a mutation in an enzyme located at the replication fork. Which enzyme is likely to be mutated?

    Telomere replication

    Since eukaryotic chromosomes are linear, DNA replication occurs at the end of the line in eukaryotic chromosomes. As you learned, the DNA polymerase enzyme can only add nucleotides in one direction. In the leading strand, synthesis continues until the end of the chromosome is reached; however, there is no place on the lagging strand to make a primer for the DNA fragment that is copied at the end of the chromosome. This poses a problem for the cell because the ends remain unpaired and over time these ends shorten as the cells continue to divide. The ends of linear chromosomes are known as telomeres, which have repetitive sequences that do not code for any particular gene. Consequently, it is the telomeres that shorten with each round of DNA replication rather than the genes. For example, in humans, the six base pair sequence, TTAGGG, is repeated 100 to 1000 times. The discovery of the enzyme telomerase (Figure \(\PageIndex{4}\)) helped to understand how the ends of chromosomes are maintained. Telomerase binds to the end of the chromosome and complementary RNA template bases are added to the end of the DNA strand. Once the template of the lagging strand is elongated enough, DNA polymerase can now add nucleotides that are complementary to the ends of the chromosome. This is how the ends of chromosomes are replicated.

    9.2: DNA Replication (5)

    Telomerase is normally active in germ cells, adult stem cells and some cancer cells. Elizabeth Blackburn (photo \(\PageIndex{5}\)) received the 2009 Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology for her discovery of telomerase and its mechanisms of action.

    (Video) 9.2 DNA Replication

    9.2: DNA Replication (6)

    Telomerase is not active in mature somatic cells. Mature somatic cells undergoing cell division still have shortened telomeres. This essentially means that telomere shortening is associated with aging. In 2010, scientists discovered that telomerase can reverse some aging-related conditions in mice, and this could have potential in regenerative medicine.1These studies used telomerase-deficient mice; these mice have tissue atrophy, stem cell depletion, organ system failure, and impaired responses to tissue injury. Telomerase reactivation in these mice caused telomere elongation, reduced DNA damage, reversed neurodegeneration and improved testicular, spleen and intestinal function. Therefore, telomere reactivation may have potential for the treatment of aging-related diseases in humans.

    DNA replication in prokaryotes

    Recall that the prokaryotic chromosome is a circular molecule with a less elaborate helical structure than eukaryotic chromosomes. The eukaryotic chromosome is linear and tightly wrapped around proteins. While there are many similarities in the process of DNA replication, these structural differences necessitate some differences in the process of DNA replication in these two life forms.

    DNA replication has been extremely well studied in prokaryotes, mainly due to the small size of the genome and the large number of variants available.Escherichia colithere are 4.6 million base pairs in one circular chromosome, all replicating in about 42 minutes, starting at one origin of replication and continuing around the chromosome in either direction. This means that about 1000 nucleotides are added per second. The process is much faster than in eukaryotes. Table \(\PageIndex{1}\) summarizes the differences between prokaryotic and eukaryotic replication.

    Tablica \(\PageIndex{1}\):Differences between prokaryotic and eukaryotic replication
    Property Prokaryoten Eukaryotes
    The origin of replication Single Multiple
    Replication rate 1000 nucleotides/s 50 to 100 nucleotides/s
    Chromosome structure circular linear
    Telomeraza He is not present Gift


    (Video) OpenStax Concepts of Biology Ch 9.2 DNA Replication

    Click through oneself studyto DNA replication.

    DNA repair

    DNA polymerase can make mistakes when adding nucleotides. Edits DNA by proofreading each newly added base. The wrong bases are removed and replaced with the correct base, after which the polymerization continues (Figure \(\PageIndex{6}\)A). Most errors are corrected during replication, but when they are not, a mismatch repair mechanism is used. Mismatch repair enzymes recognize the incorrectly incorporated base and cut it from the DNA and replace it with the correct base (Figure \(\PageIndex{6}\)B). In another type of repair, nucleotide excision repair, the DNA double strand is unwound and separated, the incorrect bases are removed along with a few bases at the 5' and 3' ends, and they are replaced by copying the template using DNA polymerase (Figure \(\PageIndex {6}\)C). Nucleotide excision repair is especially important in correcting thymine dimers, which are mainly caused by ultraviolet light. In a thymine dimer, two adjacent thymine nucleotides on one strand are covalently linked together, not at their complementary bases. If the dimer is not removed and repaired, it leads to mutation. Individuals with defects in nucleotide excision repair genes show extreme sensitivity to sunlight and develop skin cancer at a young age.

    9.2: DNA Replication (7)

    Most bugs have been fixed; if they are not, they can result in a mutation - defined as a permanent change in the DNA sequence. Mutations in repair genes can have serious consequences, such as cancer.


    DNA is replicated by a semi-conservative method where each of the two parent DNA strands acts as a template for the new DNA being synthesized. After replication, each DNA has one parent or "old" strand and one daughter or "new" strand.

    Replication in eukaryotes starts from multiple origins of replication while replication in prokaryotes starts from a single origin of replication. The DNA is opened by enzymes, resulting in the formation of a replication fork. Primase synthesizes an RNA primer to initiate synthesis by DNA polymerase, which can only add nucleotides in one direction. One strand is continuously synthesized in the direction of the replication fork; this is called the leading strand. The second strand is synthesized in the direction away from the replication fork, in short stretches of DNA known as Okazaki fragments. This strand is known as the trailing strand. After replication is complete, the RNA primers are replaced with DNA nucleotides and the DNA is sealed by DNA ligase.

    The ends of eukaryotic chromosomes are a problem because polymerase cannot extend them without a primer. Telomerase, an enzyme with a built-in RNA template, extends the ends by copying the RNA template and extending one end of the chromosome. DNA polymerase can then extend the DNA using the primer. In this way, the ends of the chromosomes are protected. Cells have mechanisms to repair DNA when it is damaged or when replication errors are made. These mechanisms include mismatch repair to replace nucleotides paired with a non-complementary base and nucleotide excision repair, which removes damaged bases such as thymine dimers.

    (Video) DNA replication - 3D

    Artistic connections

    Figure \(\PageIndex{3}\): You have isolated a cell type in which the binding of Okazaki fragments has been disrupted and you suspect a mutation in an enzyme located at the replication fork. Which enzyme is likely to be mutated?


    Ligase, because this enzyme joins Okazaki fragments.


    1. 1Mariella Jaskelioff, et al., “Telomerase Reactivation Reverses Tissue Degeneration in Old Telomerase-Deficient Mice,”Nature, 469 (2011): 102–7.

    Word list

    DNA ligaza
    an enzyme that catalyzes the joining of DNA fragments
    an enzyme that synthesizes a new DNA strand that is complementary to the template strand
    an enzyme that helps open the DNA helix during DNA replication by breaking hydrogen bonds
    lagging strand
    during replication from the 3' to 5' strand, the strand that is replicated in short fragments and away from the replication fork
    important bundle
    strand that is continuously synthesized in the direction from 5' to 3' that is synthesized in the direction of the replication fork
    mismatch repair
    a form of DNA repair in which non-complementary nucleotides are recognized, excised, and replaced with the correct nucleotides
    permanent variation in the nucleotide sequence of the genome
    nucleotide excision repair
    a form of DNA repair in which the DNA molecule is unwound and separated at the site of nucleotide damage, the damaged nucleotides are removed and replaced with new nucleotides by the complementary strand, and the DNA strand is resealed and recombined with its complement
    Okazaki fragments
    DNA fragments synthesized in short stretches on the lagging strand
    a short stretch of RNA nucleotides needed to initiate replication and allow DNA polymerase to bind and initiate replication
    replication fork
    a Y-shaped structure formed during the initiation of replication
    semi-conservative replication
    a method used for DNA replication in which a double-stranded molecule is separated and each strand acts as a template for a new strand to be synthesized so that the resulting DNA molecules consist of a new strand of nucleotides and an old strand of nucleotides
    an enzyme containing a catalytic moiety and an embedded RNA template; functions to maintain telomeres at the ends of chromosomes
    DNA at the end of linear chromosomes

    Contributors and Attributions


    9.2: DNA Replication? ›

    How is DNA replicated? Replication occurs in three major steps: the opening of the double helix and separation of the DNA strands, the priming of the template strand, and the assembly of the new DNA segment. During separation, the two strands of the DNA double helix uncoil at a specific location called the origin.

    What is the DNA replication process? ›

    How is DNA replicated? Replication occurs in three major steps: the opening of the double helix and separation of the DNA strands, the priming of the template strand, and the assembly of the new DNA segment. During separation, the two strands of the DNA double helix uncoil at a specific location called the origin.

    How do you calculate DNA replication? ›

    During DNA replication, the complementary strands of DNA must unwind completely to allow the synthesis of a new strand on each template. The number of helical turns = number of base pairs/number of base pairs per helical turn. Thus, 4.64 x 106/10 = 4.64 x 105 turns must be unwound.

    What are the 3 types of DNA replication? ›

    There were three models for how organisms might replicate their DNA: semi-conservative, conservative, and dispersive.

    What are the 10 steps of DNA replication? ›

    • DNA unwinds @ origin of replication.
    • helicase opens up DNA and makes replication fork.
    • single strand bonding proteins coat DNA around replication fork to prevent rewinding DNA.
    • topoisomerase binds @ region ahead of replication fork to prevent supercoiling.
    • primase synthesizes RNA primers, complementary to DNA strand.

    Where does DNA replication occur? ›

    DNA replication occurs in the nucleus in eukaryotes, whereas in cytoplasm in prokaryotes.

    What is DNA replication called? ›

    DNA replication is called semiconservative because an existing DNA strand is used to create a new strand. Explanation. DNA is a double stranded molecule. When DNA is copied the two strand of DNA (old strands) separate and new complementary nucleotides are added on the two separated strands.

    What are the steps of DNA transcription? ›

    Transcription has three stages: initiation, elongation, and termination.

    Is DNA replication 5 to 3 or 3 to 5? ›

    DNA is always synthesized in the 5'-to-3' direction, meaning that nucleotides are added only to the 3' end of the growing strand. As shown in Figure 2, the 5'-phosphate group of the new nucleotide binds to the 3'-OH group of the last nucleotide of the growing strand.

    How long is DNA replication? ›

    An average-sized human chromosome contains a single linear DNA molecule of about 150 million nucleotide pairs. To replicate such a DNA molecule from end to end with a single replication fork moving at a rate of 50 nucleotides per second would require 0.02 × 150 × 106 = 3.0 × 106 seconds (about 800 hours).

    What is the basic rule of replication? ›

    Replication relies on complementary base pairing, that is the principle explained by Chargaff's rules: adenine (A) always bonds with thymine (T) and cytosine (C) always bonds with guanine (G).

    Why is DNA replication important? ›

    DNA replication is the process by which a double-stranded DNA molecule is copied to produce two identical DNA molecules. Replication is an essential process because, whenever a cell divides, the two new daughter cells must contain the same genetic information, or DNA, as the parent cell.

    What is the 4 step of DNA replication? ›

    Step 4: Termination

    Another enzyme called DNA ligase joins Okazaki fragments together forming a single unified strand. The ends of the linear DNA present a problem as DNA polymerase can only add nucleotides in the 5′ to 3′ direction. The ends of the parent strands consist of repeated DNA sequences called telomeres.

    What 2 enzymes are involved in DNA replication? ›

    DNA polymerase III (It is the main replicating enzyme) Helicase (separate double-stranded DNA into single strands allowing each strand to be copied)

    What are the 5 requirements for DNA replication? ›

    Requirements for DNA replication
    • Original DNA template - DNA is a double helix made of two complementary strands. ...
    • Free DNA nucleotides – needed to form the new strands.
    • DNA polymerase – an enzyme that adds new nucleotides to a growing strand of DNA.

    How is RNA different from DNA? ›

    Whereas DNA always occurs in cells as a double-stranded helix, RNA is single-stranded. RNA chains therefore fold up into a variety of shapes, just as a polypeptide chain folds up to form the final shape of a protein (Figure 6-6).

    What is DNA replication grade 10? ›

    DNA replication is one of the essential processes in a cell. During the replication process, the DNA molecule creates exact copies of its structure. The nucleotides of each strand provide the information needed to produce its new strand, and the two strands of a DNA molecule have complementary base pairs.

    What are the 6 enzymes in DNA replication? ›

    The enzymes involved in the replication of prokaryotic DNA are DNA polymerase I to III, helicase, ligase, primase, sliding clamp, topoisomerase, and single-strand binding proteins (SSBs). The basics of DNA replication are similar in prokaryotes and eukaryotes, but eukaryotes have many more enzymes involved.

    How often does DNA replicate? ›

    The DNA in each human cell is around 3 billion digits long and has to be copied every time a cell divides—which occurs nearly 2 trillion times each day. If errors occur in DNA replication, cells can become abnormal and give rise to disease.

    Where does DNA replication start and end? ›

    Eukaryotes initiate DNA replication at multiple points in the chromosome, so replication forks meet and terminate at many points in the chromosome. Because eukaryotes have linear chromosomes, DNA replication is unable to reach the very end of the chromosomes.

    What is DNA made of? ›

    DNA is made up of four building blocks called nucleotides: adenine (A), thymine (T), guanine (G), and cytosine (C). The nucleotides attach to each other (A with T, and G with C) to form chemical bonds called base pairs, which connect the two DNA strands.

    Is DNA A replication or RNA? ›

    The goal itself of the two processes is different. DNA replication aim to produce a copy of the genetic information and RNA trancription aim to ultimately (in most cases) produce a protein.

    What is the end result of DNA replication? ›

    The result of DNA replication is two DNA molecules consisting of one new and one old chain of nucleotides. This is why DNA replication is described as semi-conservative, half of the chain is part of the original DNA molecule, half is brand new.

    What is DNA translation? ›

    Listen to pronunciation. (trans-LAY-shun) In biology, the process by which a cell makes proteins using the genetic information carried in messenger RNA (mRNA). The mRNA is made by copying DNA, and the information it carries tells the cell how to link amino acids together to form proteins.

    Which strand of DNA is transcribed? ›

    DNA is double-stranded, but only one strand serves as a template for transcription at any given time. This template strand is called the noncoding strand. The nontemplate strand is referred to as the coding strand because its sequence will be the same as that of the new RNA molecule.

    Is DNA replicated? ›

    DNA replication is the process by which the genome's DNA is copied in cells. Before a cell divides, it must first copy (or replicate) its entire genome so that each resulting daughter cell ends up with its own complete genome.

    What does 5 to 3 mean in DNA? ›

    Each end of DNA molecule has a number. One end is referred to as 5' (five prime) and the other end is referred to as 3' (three prime). The 5' and 3' designations refer to the number of carbon atom in a deoxyribose sugar molecule to which a phosphate group bonds.

    Why is replication always from 5 to 3? ›

    The need for accuracy probably explains why DNA replication occurs only in the 5′-to-3′ direction. If there were a DNA polymerase that added deoxyribonucleoside triphosphates in the 3′-to-5′ direction, the growing 5′-chain end, rather than the incoming mononucleotide, would carry the activating triphosphate.

    Does DNA always run from 5 to 3? ›

    Any single strand of DNA/RNA will always have an unbound 5' phosphate at one end and an unbound 3' hydroxyl group at the opposite end. DNA is always read in the 5' to 3' direction, and hence you would start reading from the free phosphate and finish at the free hydroxyl group.

    Does DNA replicate forever? ›

    Once you die, that unique DNA will start to decay. It may take tens of thousands of years, but eventually it will be gone. Your DNA won't last forever.

    Is DNA easy to replicate? ›

    The structure of the DNA molecule makes replication easy. Each side of the double helix run in opposite directions - one up, one down. This gives the structure the ability to unzip down the middle, and each side serves as a template for the other side.

    Can humans replicate DNA? ›

    Replication of the human genome relies on the presence of thousands of origins distributed along each of the chromosomes. The activation of these origins occurs in a highly regulated manner to ensure that chromosomes are faithfully duplicated only once during each cell cycle.

    What is the minimum time for replication? ›

    One complete replication of the chromosome takes approximately 38-40 minutes, while the cell divides every 20 mins in nutrient-rich media.

    What is 1 step of DNA replication? ›

    The very first step in DNA replication is unzipping the double helix of the DNA molecule, the unwinding of DNA occurs by enzyme helicase and gyrase. After unwinding the DNA forms a replication fork and both the strands act as a template for the formation of new strands.

    What are the steps in the DNA process? ›

    The DNA testing process is comprised of four main steps, including extraction, quantitation, amplification, and capillary electrophoresis.

    What are the 6 What are the steps involved in viral replication? ›

    The seven stages of virus replication are categorized as follows:
    • Attachment.
    • Penetration.
    • Uncoating.
    • Replication.
    • Assembly.
    • Maturation.
    • Release.

    What are the steps in DNA replication and protein synthesis? ›

    Three processes are required: (1) replication, in which new copies of DNA are made; (2) transcription, in which a segment of DNA is used to produce RNA; and (3) translation, in which the information in RNA is translated into a protein sequence.

    What are the steps of DNA replication in eukaryotes? ›

    DNA replication in eukaryotes occurs in three stages: initiation, elongation, and termination, which are aided by several enzymes.

    What are the basic steps of DNA and RNA? ›

    Transcription is the name given to the process in which DNA is copied to make a complementary strand of RNA. RNA then undergoes translation to make proteins. The major steps of transcription are initiation, promoter clearance, elongation, and termination.

    What is the sequence of replication by a DNA virus? ›

    The replication cycle of all viruses involves three key phases: initiation of infection, genome replication and expression, and finally, egress or release of mature virions from the infected cell.

    What are the 5 stages of viral replication? ›

    The viral life cycle can be divided into several major stages: attachment, entry, uncoating, replication, maturation, and release.

    What is the 4 steps of viral replication? ›

    Step 1: Attachment: The virus attaches itself to the target cell. Step 2: Penetration: The virus is brought into the target cell. Step 3: Uncoating and Replication: The enveloped virus loses its envelope, and viral RNA is released into the nucleus, where it is replicated. Step 4: Assembly: Viral proteins are assembled.

    What are the 4 functions of DNA replication? ›

    DNA contains only four bases, called A, T, C and G. The sequence of the nucleotides along the backbone encodes genetic information. The four roles DNA plays are replication, encoding information, mutation/recombination and gene expression.

    What are the 4 requirements for DNA replication? ›

    Most organisms, including mammals, use bi-directional replication. There are four basic components required to initiate and propagate DNA synthesis. They are: substrates, template, primer and enzymes.

    What is the order of cell replication? ›

    These phases are prophase, prometaphase, metaphase, anaphase, and telophase.

    Where does DNA replication occurs? ›

    DNA replication occurs in the nucleus in eukaryotes, whereas in cytoplasm in prokaryotes.

    What are the steps of DNA replication interphase? ›

    There are three stages of interphase: G1 (first gap), S (synthesis of new DNA ), and G2 (second gap). Cells spend most of their lives in interphase, specifically in the S phase where genetic material must be copied.


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