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ANTICODON The triplet of bases in the center loop of tRNA that is complementary to a codon
on mRNA.
BASE Nitrogen-containing compounds of purine and pyrimidine found in DNA and RNA:
adenine (A), thymine (T), cytosine (C), guanine (G), and uracil (U).
CODON A sequence of three bases in mRNA that specifies a certain amino acid to be placed
in a protein. A few codons signal the start or stop of protein synthesis.
COMPLEMENTARY BASE PAIRS In DNA, adenine is always paired with thymine or and
guanine is always paired with cytosine or . In forming RNA, adenine is paired with uracil.
DNA Deoxyribonucleic acid, the genetic material of cells, contains deoxyribose sugar,
phosphate, and bases adenine, thymine, guanine, and cytosine.
DOUBLE HELIX The helical shape of the double chain of DNA that is like a spiral staircase
with a sugar-phosphate backbone on the outside and base pairs like stair steps on the inside.
FRAMESHIFT MUTATION A mutation that inserts or deletes a base in a DNA sequence.
GENETIC CODE The information in DNA that is transferred to mRNA as a sequence of codons
for the synthesis of protein.
GENETIC DISEASE A physical malformation or metabolic dysfunction caused by a mutation in
the base sequence of DNA.
mRNA Messenger RNA; produced in the nucleus by DNA to carry the genetic information to
the ribosomes for the construction of a protein.
MUTATION A change in the DNA base sequence that alters the formation of a protein in the
NUCLEIC ACIDS Large molecules composed of nucleotides, found as a double helix in DNA
and as the single strands of RNA.
NUCLEOSIDE The combination of a pentose sugar and a base. (AU). (GC or CG) (AT or
NUCLEOTIDES Building blocks of a nucleic acid, consisting of a base, a pentose sugar
(ribose or deoxyribose), and a phosphate group.
PHOSPHODIESTER BOND The phosphate link that joins the hydroxyl group in one
nucleotide to the phosphate group on the carbon atom in the next nucleotide.
PRIMARY STRUCTURE The sequences of nucleotides in nucleic acids.
REPLICATION The process of duplicating DNA by pairing the bases on each parent strand
with their complementary base.
RETROVIRUS A virus that contains RNA as its genetic material and synthesizes a
complementary DNA strand inside a cell.
RNA Ribonucleic acid is a single strand of nucleotides containing adenine, cytosine, guanine,
and uracil.
rRNA Ribosomal RNA, the most prevalent type of RNA, is a major component of the
SUBSTITUTION A mutation that replaces one base in a DNA with a different base.
TRANSCRIPTION The transfer of genetic information from DNA by the formation of mRNA.
TRANSLATION The interpretation of the codons in mRNA as amino acids in a peptide.
tRNA Transfer RNA places a specific amino acid into a peptide chain at the ribosome using an
anticodon. There is one or more tRNA for each of the 20 different amino acids.
VIRUS Small particles containing DNA or RNA in a protein coat that require a host cell for

DNA Replication

Preserve genetic information. As cells divide, copies of DNA are produced that
transfer genetic
information to the new cells.
In DNA replication, the strands in the parent DNA separate, which allows the
synthesis of complementary DNA strands
HELICASE catalyzes the unwinding of a portion of the double helix by breaking the
hydrogen bonds between the complementary bases. These single strands now act
as templates for the synthesis of new complementary DNA strands
As the complementary base pairs form,
DNA POLYMERASE catalyzes the formation of phosphodiester bonds between the
nucleotides. Eventually the entire double helix of the parent DNA is copied.
In each new DNA molecule, one strand of the double helix is from the original DNA
and one is a newly synthesized strand.
This process produces two new DNAs called daughter DNAs that are identical to
each other and exact copies of the original parent DNA. In the process of DNA
replication, complementary base pairing ensures the correct placement of bases in
the new DNA strands.

RNA and the Genetic Code


Ribonucleic acid, RNA, which makes up most of the nucleic acid found in the cell
involved with transmitting the genetic information needed to operate the cell.
RNA differs from DNA in several important ways:
The sugar in RNA is ribose rather than the deoxyribose found in DNA.
The base uracil replaces thymine.
RNA molecules are single stranded, not double stranded.
RNA molecules are much smaller than DNA molecules.

o In the nucleus, genetic information for the synthesis of a protein is copied
from a gene in DNA to make messenger RNA (mRNA). The mRNA molecules
move out of the nucleus into the cytoplasm where they combine with
TRANSLATION, tRNA molecules convert the information in the mRNA into amino
acids, which are placed in the proper sequence to synthesize a protein.

Protein Synthesis: Transcription

Transcription: Synthesis of mRNA
Transcription begins when the section of a DNA that contains the gene to be copied
unwinds. Within the unwound DNA, RNA polymerase enzyme uses one of the
strands as a template to synthesize mRNA. Just as in DNA synthesis, C pairs with G,
T pairs with A, but in mRNA, U (not T) pairs with A.
The RNA polymerase moves along the DNA template strand, forming bonds
between the bases. When the RNA polymerase reaches the termination site,
transcription ends and the new mRNA is released. The unwound section of the DNA
returns to its double helix structure.

The Genetic Code

The genetic code consists of a series of three nucleotides (triplet) in mRNA called
codons that specify the amino acids and their sequence in the protein.

Early work on protein synthesis showed that repeating triplets of uracil (UUU) in
mRNA produced a polypeptide that contained only phenylalanine.

Protein Synthesis
Once the mRNA is synthesized, it migrates out of the nucleus into the cytoplasm to
the ribosomes. In the translation process, tRNA molecules, amino acids, and
enzymes convert the codons on mRNA into a protein.

Protein Synthesis: Translation

Activation of tRNA
Each tRNA molecule contains a loop called an anticodon, which is a triplet of
bases that complements a codon in mRNA. A tRNA is activated for protein
synthesis by aminoacyl tRNA synthetase, which attaches the correct amino acid to
the acceptor stem.

Initiation and Chain Elongation

Protein synthesis begins when mRNA combines with a ribosome. The first codon in
mRNA is a start codon, AUG, which forms hydrogen bonds with methionine-tRNA.
Once the peptide bond is formed, the initial tRNA detaches from the ribosome,
which shifts to the next available codon, a process called translocation.
During chain elongation, the ribosome moves along the mRNA from codon to
codon, attaching new amino acids to the growing polypeptide chain.
Sometimes several ribosomes, called a polysome, translate the same strand of
mRNA to produce several copies of the peptide chain at the same time.
Chain Termination
Eventually, the ribosome encounters one of the stop codonsUAA, UGA, or UAG
that have no corresponding tRNAs.
A stop codon signals the termination of polypeptide synthesis and the polypeptide
chain is released from the ribosome.
The initial amino acid methionine is usually removed from the beginning of the
polypeptide chain.
Once released, the R groups of the amino acids in the new polypeptide can form
hydrogen bonds to give the secondary structures of helices, -pleated sheets, or
triple helices and form cross-links such as salt bridges and disulfide bonds to
produce tertiary and quaternary structures, which makes it a biologically active

Genetic Mutations

A mutation is a change in the nucleotide sequence of DNA.

Such a change may alter the sequence of amino acids, affecting the structure and function of a
protein in a cell.
Mutations may result from X-rays, overexposure to sun (ultraviolet, or UV, light), chemicals called
mutagens, and possibly some viruses.

If a mutation occurs in a somatic cell (a cell other than a reproductive cell), the altered DNA will be
limited to that cell and its daughter cells. If there is uncontrolled growth, the mutation could lead to

If a mutation occurs in a germ cell (egg or sperm), then the DNA produced in a new individual will
contain the same genetic change. When a mutation severely alters the function of structural
proteins or enzymes, the new cells may not survive or the person may exhibit a genetic disease.

Types of Mutations


o The replacement of one base in the template strand of DNA with another. When there is a
change of nucleotides in the codon, a different amino acid may be inserted into the
polypeptide. However, if a substitution gives a codon for the same amino acid, there is no
effect on the amino acid sequence in the protein. This type of substitution is a silent
mutation. Substitution is the most common way in which mutations occur
o a base is inserted into or deleted from the normal order of bases in the template strand of
DNA. Suppose that an A is deleted from the triplet AAA, giving a new triplet of AAC. The next
triplet becomes CGA rather than CCG and so on. All the triplets shift by one base, which
changes all the codons that follow and leads to a different sequence of amino acids.