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DNA, or Deoxyribonucleic Acid, is described, in Encarta Encyclopedia as a genetic material of all cellular organisms and most viruses. DNA carries the information needed to direct protein synthesis and replication. Protein synthesis is the production of the proteins needed by the cell or virus for its activities and development. Replication is the process by which DNA copies itself for each descendant cell or virus, passing on the information needed for protein synthesis. In most cellular organisms, DNA is organized on chromosomes located in the nucleus of the cell.

A molecule of DNA consists of two chains, strands composed of a large number of nucleotides, that are linked together to form a chain. These chains look like a twisted ladder and are called a double helix. Each nucleotide consists of three units: sugar molecules called deoxyribose, a phosphate group, and one of four different nitrogen containing compounds, also called bases. The four are adenine (A), guanine (G), thymine (T), and cytosine (C). The deoxyribose molecule occupies the center of the nucleotide, with the phosphate group on one side and a base on the other. The phosphate group of each nucleotide is also linked to the deoxyribose of the adjacent nucleotide in the chain. These linked deoxyribose-phosphate subunits form the side rails of the ladder. The bases face inward toward each other, forming the steps of the ladder.

The nucleotides in one DNA strand have a specific association with the corresponding nucleotides in the other DNA strand. Because of the chemical affinity of the bases, nucleotides containing adenine are always paired with nucleotides containing thymine, and nucleotides containing cytosine are always paired with nucleotides containing guanine. The complementary bases are joined to each other by weak chemical bonds called hydrogen bonds.

DNA carries the instructions for the production of proteins. A protein is composed of smaller molecules called amino acids, and the structure and function of the protein is determined by the sequence of its amino acids. The sequence of amino acids, in turn, is determined by the sequence of nucleotide bases in the DNA. A sequence of three nucleotide bases, called a triplet, is the genetic code word, or codon, that specifies a particular amino acid. For instance, the triplet GAC (guanine, adenine, and cytosine) is the codon for the amino acid leucine, and the triplet CAG (cytosine, adenine, and guanine) is the codon for the amino acid valine. A protein consisting of 100 amino acids is thus encoded by a DNA segment consisting of 300 nucleotides. Of the two polynucleotide chains that form a DNA molecule, only one strand, called the sense strand, contains the information needed for the production of a given amino acid sequence. The other strand aids in replication.

Protein synthesis begins with the separation of a DNA molecule into two strands. In a process called transcription, a section of the sense strand acts as a template, or pattern, to produce ...

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Keywords: dna test, dna testas, dna structure, dna test ancestry, dna replication, dna meaning, dna methylation, dna test online

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