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Amino acids and protein folding
DNA damage and repair
Mitosis and meiosis
Protein structure and synthesis
Transcription of DNA
Translation of mRNA
Acute radiation syndrome
Adenosine deaminase deficiency
Purine and pyrimidine synthesis and metabolism disorders: Pathology review
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Our DNA is like a library - found in the nucleus of our cells - with thousands of books.
Some of these books - called genes - are extremely important, because they carry the recipes for every single protein found in the cell.
Now, on a molecular level, DNA is made up of two strands of nucleotides, so each gene is just a segment of this nucleotide sequence.
Nucleotides of DNA are made out of a sugar - deoxyribose, a phosphate, and one of the four nucleobases - adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine - or, A, C, G, T for short.
The nucleotides on one strand pair up using hydrogen bonds with nucleotides on the opposing strand, to create the double-stranded DNA: specifically, A bonds with T, and C bonds with G, so they’re called complementary bases.
Now, the goal of DNA is to store information and pass it onto their daughter cells, and to use this information to create proteins.
To do this, there are two critical processes - DNA replication and gene expression.
DNA replication occurs during the cell cycle - more specifically, during the S phase of interphase.
So, the cell cycle is made up of interphase - when the cell prepares for division - and mitosis - or the actual splitting of the cell in two daughter cell.
Interphase has 3 subphases - G1, S and G2, and during the S subphase, the cell replicates its DNA, so that the two daughter cells get the exact same DNA during mitosis.
If we zoom onto the double- stranded DNA, we can see that during DNA replication, the two DNA strands are separated by an enzyme called DNA helicase.
Then another enzyme, DNA polymerase, uses each of the single strands as a template and adds complementary nucleotides to it.
Gene expression, on the other hand, is the process of decoding the information stored in the DNA in order for the cell to make proteins, and it includes transcription and translation.
Transcription is where RNA polymerase copies the nucleotide sequence of the gene and creates a messenger RNA molecule, or mRNA that has the same sequence, with one tweak: it has uracil nucleotides - or U - instead of thymine.
Now during translation, cell organelles called ribosomes “read” the mRNA molecule in 3 nucleotide “words”, called codons - with each 3 nucleotide sequence coding for an amino acid that will eventually become part of the protein.
So, for the cell to keep functioning, the DNA strands need to remain intact, or at least mostly intact, in order to pass on or express unaltered genetic information.
Unfortunately, the cell is exposed all the time to both endogenous, and exogenous or environmental factors that can damage the DNA.
Luckily, if DNA gets damaged, the cell can enter a special phase outside the cell cycle - the G0 phase - where DNA repair mechanism try to fix the damage.
If the DNA damage starts to pile up - a cell will typically go down one of three paths.
First, the cell might go into senescence - which is when the cell stops dividing.
Second, the cell might undergo apoptosis, which is programmed cell death.
DNA damage is any abnormal change in the DNA sequence that may occur due to environmental factors, such as UV radiation or chemicals. The body's cells have mechanisms to repair this damage, which helps to ensure that damaged DNA doesn't accumulate and results in uncontrolled cell division and tumor formation. DNA repair mechanisms include mismatch repair, base excision repair, nucleotide excision repair, non-homologous end joining, and homologous recombination.
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