DNA replication is a biological process that occurs in all living organisms and copies their DNA; it is the basis for biological inheritance. The process starts when one double-stranded DNA molecule produces two identical copies of the molecule. The cell cycle (mitosis) also pertains to the DNA replication/reproduction process. The cell cycle includes interphase, prophase, metaphase, anaphase, and telophase. Each strand of the original double-stranded DNA molecule serves as template for the production of the complementary strand, a process referred to as semiconservative replication. Cellular proofreading and error toe-checking mechanisms ensure near perfect fidelity for DNA replication.
In a cell, DNA replication begins at specific locations in the genome, called "origins". Unwinding of DNA at the origin, and synthesis of new strands, forms a replication fork. In addition to DNA polymerase, the enzyme that synthesizes the new DNA by adding nucleotides matched to the template strand, a number of other proteins are associated with the fork and assist in the initiation and continuation of DNA synthesis.
DNA replication can also be performed in vitro (artificially, outside a cell). DNA polymerases, isolated from cells, and artificial DNA primers are used to initiate DNA synthesis at known sequences in a template molecule. The polymerase chain reaction (PCR), a common laboratory technique, employs such artificial synthesis in a cyclic manner to amplify a specific target DNA fragment from a pool of DNA.
Famous quotes containing the word dna:
“Here [in London, history] ... seemed the very fabric of things, as if the city were a single growth of stone and brick, uncounted strata of message and meaning, age upon age, generated over the centuries to the dictates of some now all-but-unreadable DNA of commerce and empire.”
—William Gibson (b. 1948)