DNA Replication - The Definitive Guide | Biological dictionary (2023)


DNA replication is a process that takes place during cell division where two identical DNA molecules are made from one DNA molecule. In a semi-conservative process, a single molecule containing two DNA strands forming a double helix is ​​separated, with each strand serving as a template for new DNA molecules. Because the double helix is ​​antiparallel and DNA polymerase only synthesizes new DNA from 5'-3', reading the template strand 3'-5' results in a continuous, leading strand, while reading the template strand 5'-3' results in a discontinuous, lagging strand. Because it is a highly regulated process, multiple proteins are required during and after replication to quickly correct errors and damage.


Deoxyribonucleic acid, simply known as DNA, is the blueprint for all living things. DNA contains genes that code for physical and metabolic information that is expressed in an individual while having the potential to pass on to future offspring. Almost all cells have DNA, which is usually stored in the nucleus. Notable cells that do not have DNA include nucleated cells (or nucleated cells, such as red blood cells). In addition, some cells may still have DNA despite not having a nucleus, such as bacterial cells.

DNA nucleotides

DNA is made up of four building blocks of monomers, also known asnucleotides. Nucleotides consist of three groups:

  1. Deoxyribose sugar group
  2. Phosphate group
  3. Nitrogen base

All nucleotides have the same sugar group and phosphate group, but different nitrogenous bases.The nitrogen bases in DNA are adenine, guanine, cytosine and thymine.Adenine and guanine are classified aspudding, while cytosine and thymine are classified aspyrimidine. Purines have two rings in their basic structure while pyrimidines have one ring in their basic structure.

(Helpful tip: A simple pneumonia to remember adenine and guanine as purines is "PureASGster"!)

DNK structure

Nucleotides are arranged in chains that become single strands of DNA, which is half of an entire DNA molecule. Each chain has a sugar-phosphate backbone formed when the phosphate of one nucleotide is covalently attached to the sugar of the nextphosphodiesterbinding. More precisely, the phosphate is located on the 5' carbon atom of one nucleotide, while the ahydroxyl group (-OH) is located on the 3' carbon atom of the sugar group of the next nucleotide. The -OH from the 3' carbon is removed, with the phosphate group on the 5' carbon now also attached to the 3' carbon.

Nitrogen bases protrude from this spine. The second strand of DNA is base-wise aligned with this first strandfree basic coupling, where one purine joins one pyrimidine. Special,adenine pairs with thymine and guanine pairs with cytosine.Hydrogen bonds connect complementary base pairs, with the adenine-thymine pair having two hydrogen bonds and the guanine-cytosine pair having three hydrogen bonds. One DNA molecule resultsdouble helixform when two DNA strands line up and connect.

DNA has an orientation that can run 3'-5' or 5'-3' based on the carbon in the sugar group. The two strands of DNA in a double helix must run opposite each other in theantiparallelfashion. Therefore, if the first strand starts at the 3' end and ends at the 5' end, then the second strand should go in the opposite direction, starting at the 5' end and ending at the 3' end.


(Video) DNA Replication (Updated)

3′- AATCGTAA -5′

5'- TTAGCAT -3'

DNA replication is semi-conservative

DNA must be fully replicated before cells divide by mitosis to ensure that all daughter cells have identical DNA. It was discovered that DNA replicationsemi-conservative. In semiconservative replication, the double helix splits into two separate strands. During the replication process, a whole new strand of DNA is created by using the original template strand and matching the complementary bases.

The process of DNA replication

Proteins in DNA Replication

DNA replication is highly regulated and requires multiple proteins to function efficiently. Most of these proteins act as stabilizers and enzymes, and enzymes are proteins that act as catalysts to create and speed up biochemical reactions.

Some of the key proteins in DNA replication include the following:

helicopter: An enzyme that opens the double helix by breaking hydrogen bonds between complementary base pairs

Single-stranded DNA binding proteins (SSBPs): These proteins stabilize individual DNA strands to prevent them from recombining.

Topoisomerase: Because helicase unwinding of DNA causes tension further down the strand, this enzyme relieves tension by making cuts in the DNA and rejoining them before the replication fork arrives.

prime: An enzyme that adds a primer (a short segment of ribonucleic acid, known as RNA) where DNA polymerase III will bind

(Video) DNA Structure and Replication: Crash Course Biology #10

DNA-polymerase III: An enzyme that makes a new DNA strand by adding nucleotides that are complementary to the template strand

DNA-polymerase I: An enzyme that replaces the RNA primer with DNA

DNA ligaza: An enzyme that joins Okazaki fragments on the lagging strand by closing the sugar-phosphate backbone, creating a single strand of DNA

Sliding clamp: A protein that holds DNA polymerase III in place

Replication bubble

When DNA begins to replicate, a replication bubble forms that can be visually detected by electron microscopy. A specific sequence of bases - known asorigin of replication– determines where this replication bubble starts. Inside the bubble, two Y-shapedreplication forksa result where DNA actively replicates on both sides of the region. Replication forks are formed when DNA double strands are separated by helicase in both directions from the origin of replication. DNA replication proteins attach to the replication fork to perform their functions.

Replicate the leader sequence

As mentioned earlier, DNA strands have an anti-parallel nature, with one strand running 3'-5' and the other running opposite 5'-3'.DNA polymerase can synthesize alonenewstill DNA in5'-3'direction.For DNA polymerase to do this, it needs to readtemplatestrands of 3'-5'. Therefore, replication of the template strand spanning 3'-5' results in synthesisimportant bundle. The leading strand is the new strand of DNA that is synthesized into a single, continuous strand that begins at the 5' end and ends at the 3' end.

Replication of leading strand DNA using the 3'-5' template strand is as follows:

  1. The double helix of DNA is opened into single strands by helicase. Topoisomerase relieves tension further down the double helix.
  2. SSBPs stabilize single strands of DNA to prevent them from joining back together.
  3. The RNA primer is added to the leading strand by primase at complementary bases.
  4. DNA polymerase III binds to the primer. The sliding clamp stabilizes DNA polymerase III.
  5. DNA polymerase III moves down the leader strandtowards the replication fork, adding a base to the new strand from the 5' end to the 3' end.

Replicate a backlog

DNA polymerase can create alonenewDNA strands from 5'-3'. Therefore, when 5′-3′templatestrand is replicated - requiring the new strand to run in the opposite direction in the 3'-5' direction - the new strand cannot be synthesized in a continuous fashion as the leading strand was. To overcome this challenge, additional steps are required to replicate the 5'-3' template strand, where this newly synthesized strand is known aslagging strand.

In order to synthesize the lagging strand, the DNA must be broken down into smaller segments known asOkazaki fragments. Because of these multiple segments, the lagging strand is also calledinterrupted pram. Creating these multiple segments allows DNA polymerase III to synthesize a small portion of the new DNA strandaway from the replication forkin the correct 5′-3′ direction. As the replication fork continues along the double helix in the 3' direction of the template strand, a second Okazaki fragment closer to the fork can be generated. DNA polymerase III binds again to synthesize a different portion of the new DNA strand away from the fork until it reaches the previously synthesized portion. These fragments are then linked, resulting in a single strand of DNA. This process continues along the entire length of the DNA.

(Video) 5' and 3' Directions of DNA | How to Read & Write DNA

Replication of lagging strand DNA using the 5'-3' template strand is as follows:

  1. The double helix of DNA is opened into single strands by helicase. Topoisomerase relieves tension further down the double helix.
  2. SSBPs stabilize single strands of DNA.
  3. Primase adds an RNA primer to the lagging strand.
  4. DNA polymerase III binds to the primer and creates a short segment of newly synthesized DNA from 5'-3',synthesize in the opposite direction of the replication fork. This is the first Okazaki fragment.
  5. As the helicase continues to unwind the double helix and the replication fork moves down the strand, another primer is added closer to the fork. DNA polymerase III binds to this primer to synthesize a second Okazaki fragment 5'-3' of the replication fork.
  6. Once DNA polymerase III reaches the first Okazaki primer fragment, DNA polymerase I removes the primers and replaces them with the appropriate complementary bases.
  7. DNA ligase joins DNA segments by closing the sugar-phosphate backbone. The two segments are now connected into a single wire.
  8. This process is repeated as the replication fork continues down the length of the DNA.

Prokaryotes against eukaryotes

DNA replication is generally quite conserved throughout life. However, there are general differences in itenzymes and mechanisms used, as well as the time it takes between species. The greatest differences are between the domains of prokaryotes (bacteria and archaea) and eukaryotes (all other plant and animal cells).

Minor differences between these groups include faster replication times in prokaryotes and shorter Okazaki fragments in eukaryotes. Moreover, prokaryotes have only one origin of replication while eukaryotes have multiple origins of replication.The main difference between these groups is that prokaryotes have circular DNA while eukaryotes have linear DNA.Linear eukaryotic DNA poses an additional challenge to be regulated. This brings us to telomeres.


Because eukaryotic DNA is linear, they have ends that pose a challenge. For the leading strand, DNA polymerase III can continue along the entire length of the DNA. However, in the lagging strand, a primer must be added before the Okazaki fragment being synthesized before DNA polymerase III can attach and synthesize a new DNA strand opposite the replication fork. After the last Okazaki fragment is synthesized, a small piece of DNA remains at the top of the strand.This segment cannot be left unattended. If this DNA is not replicated, the genetic material is lost with each replication. After several repetition cycles, this can result in lost information that can be critical to an individual's survival.

To solve this problem,telomeresare present in eukaryotes. Telomeres are short, repetitive segments of DNA found at the end of each chromosome that contain no coding sequences. It synthesizes those telomerestelomeraza, an enzyme containing a short RNA template used to extend the length of the lagging strand. Primers are placed on telomeres where DNA polymerase III can attach to synthesize the last piece of DNA residue on the lagging strand.

Telomere replication on the lagging strand is as follows:

  1. Telomerase binds to the very end of the lagging strand and runs across the unreplicated portion of DNA.
  2. Using its own RNA template, telomerase synthesizes an extended telomere, adding additional bases to the 3' end of the lagging strand.
  3. Primase adds an example on the telomere.
  4. DNA polymerase III binds to the primer and moves in the opposite direction to telomerase to complete lagging strand synthesis.

Telomeres affect cell age

Telomerase is most active in rapidly dividing cell types, such as embryonic cells, stem cells, sperm and immune cells. In most other cell types, telomerase activity is turned off and telomeres shorten with each DNA replication. This means that cells can divide a limited number of times through mitosis before sending signals to prevent further divisions and DNA damage. As a result, cells age.

Research has shown that increasing telomere length can also extend the lifespan of cells. Unfortunately, while this offers a possible cure for growth-restricting cellular diseases, it also aids in the onset and survival of cancer. About 90% of cancer cells are mutated to turn on telomerase activity in cell types where it should be turned off. This triggers another mechanism by which cancer cells can continue to divide uncontrollably and become immortal.Researchis ongoing to determine if/how inactivating telomerase activity can slow or stop cancer progression.

DNA repair and damage

Incorrect replication

DNA replication must be fast, but also extremely accurate. DNA replication occurs billions of times in one human being. Even if there were just one flaw in every replica, that would add up to trillions of flaws that could be detrimental to an individual's life. So how are errors regulated?

(Video) DNA replication and RNA transcription and translation | Khan Academy

The first way to achieve this is to proofread your own work with DNA polymerase. Each complementary pair of nucleotides has a special shape. Therefore, when the wrong base is put in, the shape is different enough for DNA polymerase to recognize its own mistake. DNA polymerase can then remove this mismatch and replace it with the correct base.

Although DNA polymerase is capable of proofreading its own work, errors still sometimes fail. Once the DNA polymerase continues down the length of the strand,proteins for mismatch repairI can edit any additional errors. By using markers on the old DNA strand, mismatch repair proteins can distinguish sequence errors on the new strand. They then remove the mismatched nucleotide and replace it accordingly. With DNA polymerase proofreading and mismatch repair proteins correcting additional errors, there is approximately only one error for every 1 billion nucleotides synthesized.

Environmental damage

Environmental factors - such as UV radiation, X-rays and chemical exposure - can damage DNA. For example, UV radiation found in sunlight and tanning beds can create a thymine dimer where two thymine bases form a covalent bond with each other. This creates a bulge in the DNA strand that prevents DNA polymerase from synthesizing past this point. These conditions can become harmful andsystemit must be put in place to repair such damage.

In the case of UV radiation, eukaryotic cells have adapted to anucleotide excision repair systemwhich is able to detect distortions in the shape of the DNA helix. At least 18 different proteins work together to remove this distortion, using the undamaged strand as a template to repair the damaged strand. Prokaryotic cells have a simpler but similar nucleotide excision repair system that requires only three proteins. However, specifically for UV radiation, prokaryotes use an enzyme known asfotolyaselocate this damage and make repairs.


DNA replication is a highly regulated molecular process in which one DNA molecule is duplicated to produce two identical DNA molecules. As a semi-conservative process, the double helix is ​​broken apart into two strands, each strand serving as a template for the newly synthesized strand by matching complementary bases. Since DNA polymerase III can only synthesize new strands from 5'-3', this results in a leading strand being continuously synthesized and a lagging strand requiring the use of Okazaki fragments. Meanwhile, since eukaryotes have linear DNA, telomeres are necessary to ensure that genetic information is not lost during replication. Because DNA is essential to life, research continues to better understand and treat diseases caused by mutations and damage in an individual's DNA.



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  • Freeman, S., Quillin, K., Allison, L.A., Black, M., Podgorski, G., Taylor, E., & Carmichael, J. (2017). "Biological Science (Sixth Edition)." Boston: Learning Pearson.
  • Miesfeld, R. and McEvoy, M. (2017). “Biochemistry (Preliminary Edition).” New York: W.W. Norton & Company.
  • Srinivas, N., Rachakonda, S., and Kumar, R. (2020). “Telomeres and Telomere Length: A General Overview.”To scratch,12(3), 558.
(Video) Cell Biology | DNA Replication 🧬


What is the answer for DNA replication? ›

In the process of DNA replication, the DNA makes multiple copies of itself. It is a biological polymerisation, which proceeds in the sequence of initiation, elongation, and termination. It is an enzyme-catalysed reaction. DNA Polymerase is the main enzyme in the replication process.

What is the point of DNA replication worksheet answers? ›

The sole purpose of DNA replication is to generate identical DNA molecules, as they are the blueprint that makes life possible.

How do you memorize DNA replication? ›

Breaking the word O-ka-za-ki in to fragments allows for the remembering of what the fragments are called. DNA polmerase I then replaces the RNA primers with DNA.

What is DNA replication short answer questions? ›

Correct answer:

DNA replication is the process of copying the parent DNA helix into two identical daughter helices. The process is semi-conservative, which means that one parent strand is passed down to each daughter strand.

What is DNA replication __________ *? ›

DNA replication is the process by which DNA makes a copy of itself during cell division.

What is the DNA replication quizlet? ›

DNA replication is the process of producing two identical copies of DNA, in which each template for the synthesis of a new complementary daughter strand. The central enzyme involved is DNA polymerase, which catalyzes the joining of deoyribonucleoside 5'-triphosphates (dNTPs) to form the growing DNA chain.

Why is DNA replication so 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 makes DNA replication so important? ›

Cells must replicate their DNA before they can divide. This ensures that each daughter cell gets a copy of the genome, and therefore, successful inheritance of genetic traits. DNA replication is an essential process and the basic mechanism is conserved in all organisms.

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.

What does 5 and 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.

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.

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).

How many strands does DNA have? ›

DNA is made of two linked strands that wind around each other to resemble a twisted ladder — a shape known as a double helix. Each strand has a backbone made of alternating sugar (deoxyribose) and phosphate groups.

What are the three types of DNA replication? ›

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

How is DNA replication simple? ›

DNA replication is one of the most basic processes that occurs within a cell. Each time a cell divides, the two resulting daughter cells must contain exactly the same genetic information, or DNA, as the parent cell. To accomplish this, each strand of existing DNA acts as a template for replication.

Where is DNA found? ›

Most DNA is located in the cell nucleus (where it is called nuclear DNA), but a small amount of DNA can also be found in the mitochondria (where it is called mitochondrial DNA or mtDNA). Mitochondria (Figure 5) are structures within cells that convert the energy from food into a form that cells can use.

Where does DNA replication happen? ›

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

Is DNA replication fast? ›

With fork speeds of up to 1000 nucleotides per second, they can replicate their genome in less than an hour. Eucaryotic DNA replication takes place in only one part of the cell cycle, the S phase.

What is another word for replication? ›

the act of saying or doing over again we'll need to do a replication of that experiment so we can collect more data. Synonyms & Similar Words. repetition. repeat. replay.

What is the purpose of replication? ›

The purpose of replication is to advance theory by confronting existing understanding with new evidence. Ironically, the value of replication may be strongest when existing understanding is weakest. Theory advances in fits and starts with conceptual leaps, unexpected observations, and a patchwork of evidence.

What happens if DNA does not replicate? ›

The cell cycle will not proceed to the next stage. Due to which the subsequent division will not happen. This will lead to cell death.

How does DNA replicate and repair itself? ›

DNA replication takes place at a Y-shaped structure called a replication fork. A self-correcting DNA polymerase enzyme catalyzes nucleotide polymerization in a 5′-to-3′ direction, copying a DNA template strand with remarkable fidelity.

Which process best explains how DNA is replicated? ›

The replication of DNA 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 hint as to how DNA is copied. Recall that adenine nucleotides pair with thymine nucleotides, and cytosine with guanine.

What is the conclusion of the DNA replication? ›

Conclusion. DNA replication is a highly regulated molecular process where a single molecule of DNA is duplicated to result in two identical DNA molecules.

Is DNA a sperm or egg? ›

The 23 single chromosomes of the sperm are matched with the 23 single chromosomes of the egg, and this creates a new combination of 23 pairs of chromosomes in the embryo.

How many genes do humans have? ›

An international research effort called the Human Genome Project, which worked to determine the sequence of the human genome and identify the genes that it contains, estimated that humans have between 20,000 and 25,000 genes. Every person has two copies of each gene, one inherited from each parent.

How many DNA are in a cell? ›

Each chromosome contains a single very long, linear DNA molecule. In the smallest human chromosomes this DNA molecule is composed of about 50 million nucleotide pairs; the largest chromosomes contain some 250 million nucleotide pairs. The diploid human genome is thus composed of 46 DNA molecules of 24 distinct types.

Which enzyme holds DNA strands apart? ›

Helicases are enzymes that are responsible for untwisting the double helix at the replication forks, separating the two strands and making them available to serve as templates for DNA replication.

Is DNA positive or negative? ›

DNA is a negatively charged polymer that is made up of nucleotide building blocks. Before we discuss where its negative charge comes from, let's take a close-up view of the nucleotide monomers that make up DNA.

What is the single strand of DNA called? ›

What is ssDNA? The ssDNA definition is as follows: Single-stranded DNA is the single DNA strand that is created during the replication process of DNA. The replication of single-stranded DNA forms two separate single-stranded chromosomes that join together to form double-stranded DNA (dsDNA).

How does DNA work? ›

What does DNA do? DNA contains the instructions needed for an organism to develop, survive and reproduce. To carry out these functions, DNA sequences must be converted into messages that can be used to produce proteins, which are the complex molecules that do most of the work in our bodies.

What does DNA polymerase do? ›

The primary role of DNA polymerases is to accurately and efficiently replicate the genome in order to ensure the maintenance of the genetic information and its faithful transmission through generations.

What are the 5 enzymes in DNA replication in order? ›

The order of enzymes in DNA replication include the following: DNA helicase, RNA primase, DNA polymerase, and finally DNA ligase. During the process of DNA replication, the double helix unwinds with the help of the enzyme DNA helicase.

What are the 4 proteins in DNA replication? ›

Introduction • Multiple proteins are required for DNA replication at a replication fork. These include DNA polymerases, single-strand DNA binding proteins, helicases, primase,topoisomerases, and DNA ligase.

What is the origin of replication answer? ›

Origin of replication is a sequence from where replication starts and any piece of foreign DNA is linked to this sequence. The replication occurs inside the host cells. This new sequence is also responsible for controlling copy number of linked DNA.

Is DNA multiplication called replication? ›

Replication. Replication is the process by which a double stranded DNA molecule forms the identical daughter DNA molecules. Hence the DNA duplication or multiplication is known as replication.

What does DNA stand for? ›

Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) (National Human Genome Research Institute)


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