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Chapter 6

What Is DNA and How Does It Work?

Molecular Biology

DNA Structure Must Be Compatible with Its Four Roles

DNA makes copies of itself.
Occurs during S phase of the cell cycle before mitosis or meiosis.

DNA encloses information.

Information that gives rise to discernible traits in organisms.

DNA Structure Must Be Compatible with Its Four Roles

DNA controls cells and tells them what to do.
Determines function of the cell.

DNA changes by mutation.

Structure must be able to change.

Building Blocks of DNA

Three components: Five-carbon sugar Phosphate group Nitrogen-containing base

Building Blocks of DNA

Four nitrogenous bases in DNA
Adenine Thymine Guanine Cytosine

Structure of DNA
Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin
Attempted to determine structure of DNA. Discovered DNA was a helix.

Chargaffs Ratios
Erwin Chargaff
Observed that the four nitrogenous bases conformed to a rule:
Amount of Adenine = Amount of Thymine Amount of Cytosine = Amount of Guanine

Served as a clue to help Watson and Crick determine DNA structure!

Watson and Crick

Early 1950s
They were young scientists at Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, England.

Using Chargaffs ratios and Franklins data, Watson and Crick determine DNA structure is a double helix

DNA Double Helix

Consists of two strands of nucleotides. Nucleotides bonded together with covalent bonds.
Adenine hydrogen bonds with Thymine. Cytosine hydrogen bonds with Guanine.

Structure was compatible with four roles of DNA

How Does DNA Copy Itself?

DNA replication
Precedes cell division. Process:
DNA strands separate New complementary base pairs are added forming a new strand

Result: two double helices.

Each containing one old strand of DNA and one new strand of DNA

Meselson and Stahl

Proved the mechanism of DNA replication.
Called semiconservative mechanism.

Grew bacteria in medium containing various radioactive nitrogen isotopes.

Separated DNA by density using a dense, viscous sugar solution.

How is the information in DNA expressed?

Information to make proteins stored in all of the DNA of a single set of chromosomes.
Gene: blueprint for the synthesis of a protein.

Polymers made of amino acids connected end-to-end
Similar to beads on a string.

How is the information in DNA expressed?

Chromosomes containing DNA contained in nucleus. DNA codes for the construction of proteins using an intermediary molecule:
Ribonucleic acid or RNA.

Decoding information in DNA requires two processes:

Transcription. Translation.


RNA: Contains the sugar ribose. Contains adenine, uracil, cytosine and guanine. Single helix DNA: Contains deoxyribose. Contains adenine, thymine, cytosine and guanine. double helix.


Smaller, mobile. Degrades easily. Travels form nucleus to cytoplasm.

Larger, immobile. Lasts the life of cell. Resides in nucleus.

Types of RNA
Messenger RNA
Carries genetic information from DNA in nucleus to cytoplasm.
Information is used to synthesize a protein.

Codon: three nucleotide sequence that codes for one amino acid.

Types of RNA
Transfer RNA
Functions as the interpreter Transfer amino acids to the sites where the information in the mRNA is being used to make a protein Anticodon: three nucleotide sequence that is complementary to a particular codon in mRNA

Types of RNA
Ribosomal RNA
Combine with proteins to form ribosomes

Site of translation Large subunit Small subunit

Protein Synthesis
Two processes:
Occurs in the nucleus Produces RNA

Occurs in the cytoplasm Produces proteins


To line up the appropriate amino acids in the proper order requires:
mRNA tRNA Ribosomes


Codon (mRNA) must be complementary to the anticodon (tRNA). Translation continues until ribosome encounters a stop codon.

Genetic Code
Three nucleotides in mRNA (codon) code for one amino acid. Some sequences serve as starting points.
AUG codes for the amino acid methionine which also indicates to start translation.

Some sequences do not have complementary tRNA.

Indicate to the ribosome to stop translation.

Genetic Code

What Makes Cells Different From Each Other?

Due to the information in the DNA, a cell could manufacture 50,000 different proteins, but it doesnt. The proteins a cell produces influences its function.
Example: red blood cells and hemoglobin

Gene Expression
Some genes are always transcribed and translated.
Others can be turned on or off by environmental signals

Gene expression is highly regulated.

Gene Expression in Prokaryotes

Jacob and Monod
Studied digestion of lactose in bacteria. Discovered the lac operon.

Prokaryotes regulate gene expression at the level of transcription

Gene Expression in Eukaryotes

Regulated at the level of transcription.
Transcription requires transcription factors.
They recognize and bind to DNA sequences called regulatory sequences Transcription factors can increase or decrease the rate of transcription

Longevity of RNA molecule also influences gene expression.

How Does DNA Change Over Time?

Mutations: a permanent change in the genetic material of a cell or organism.
Can be inherited. Can involve whole chromosomes or changes in DNA sequences.

Whole Chromosome Mutations

Polyploid: organism or cell containing three or more sets of chromosomes.
Occurs due to a cell division error. Frequently seen in plants, rare in animals. Can have advantageous results.

Whole Chromosome Mutations

Nondisjunction: instances when paired chromosomes fail to separate during mitosis or meiosis
Can result in an aneuploid: individual whose chromosome number is greater or less than normal

Whole Chromosome Mutations

Downs Syndrome
Due to nondisjunction with chromosome 21. Characterized by mental retardation, distinctive facial features.

Whole Chromosome Mutations

Variety of DNA sequences that can randomly insert themselves by transposition in various non-homologous regions on chromosomes and other DNA.
Can generate new gene combinations Can also induce genetic errors

Mutations Involving Single DNA Nucleotides

Point Mutations:
Change in a single nucleotide base pair. Example: sickle cell anemia.

Mutations Involving Single DNA Nucleotides

Frame-shift mutation:
A change in the reading frame resulting from an insertion or deletion of nucleotides in the DNA sequence for a protein. Extremely harmful.
After deletion: JEA THE OTD OG