DNA Strand

Chromatin material is basically the DNA strand wrapped around Histones forming nucleosomes. This coiled strand is further coiled to form chromatin filament. DNA itself consists of two filaments or strands helically coiled with each other. It is also called a macromolecule because it is a very large single molecule. The detailed structure of DNA was worked out by Watson & Crick in 1953.

Watson and Crick DNA model
- Each DNA strand has a complex chemical structure. - It is made up small building units called nucleotides. - Each spiral of DNA has 10 nucleotides. - Each nucleotide consists of 3 subunits (one molecule each of pentose sugar, phosphate and nitrogenous base).

-The Phosphate and Sugar molecule are arranged one above the other alternately while the base is oriented inwards, attached to ribose sugar. - The base of one strand joins with the base of the complementary strand with Hydrogen-bond forming a spiral staircase where the bases forms the steps. -The nitrogenous base join only with its complementary base thus Adenine (A) joins with Thymine (T) through double bond & Cytosine (C) joins with Guanine (G) through triple bond i.e. A=T and C≡G

Main Features of DNA
There are 2 strands running anti-parallel to each other & are spirally arranged around an axis so it is called a double helical arrangement. 1 strand runs from 5’ 3’ and other vice versa. Each DNA strand is made up of sugar, base & phosphate. The length of a helix is 3.4 nm and the distance between 2 consecutive base pair in a helix is 0.34 nm. The diameter or the distance between 2 strands is 2 nm. Sugar are pentose type and bases are of 2 types: 1). Purines: Adenine (A) & Guanine (G). 2). Pyrimidines: Cytosine (C) & Thymine (T). Bases are connected with each other through Hydrogen Bonds i.e. A=T and G≡C.

Total number of Purines = Pyrimidines i.e. A + G = T + C Base ratio i.e. (A + T) / (G + C) is constant for a given species. This ratio is called Dissymmetry Ratio. Bases are inside and sugars are outside and 2 sugars are connected with Phosphoric Acid. DNA has a property of Duplication. Each replicates and from each replicated DNA another new DNA is formed. This is called Replication of DNA. Before Replication of DNA, Hydrogen bonds between the bases are broken.

Importance of DNA
Very important because it is Hereditary material. It acts as director of Protein Synthesis. Some DNA of chromosome forms nucleolus. DNA in presence of enzymes form mRNA which acts as messenger.

DNA Replication
During Cell Cycle chromatin material duplicated during inter-phase in order to prepare for mitosis. In this process, DNA double helix open up at one end. When the 2 strands become free at one end, new nucleotides start forming complementary pairs and thus new strands start forming around each unraveling old strand sequentially.

DNA Replication
• In the replication process the parent DNA molecule unwinds and unzips. • Then each of the old strands serves as the template for the new strands. • Each daughter DNA molecule receives one parental strand and a newly synthesized strand. • This type of DNA replication is commonly called as semi-conservative replication, because here each daughter DNA molecule receives one parental strand.

DNA replication requires following three steps:
• Unwinding: - The old strand that makes up the parent DNA molecule is unwound and unzipped (weak hydrogen bonds between the paired bases are broken). The hydrogen bonds between the molecules are broken with the help of Helicase enzyme. • Complementary base pairing:- With the help of enzyme DNA polymerase new complementary nucleotides (that are always present in the nucleus) are positioned adjacent to each other opposite to the parent DNA template. • Joining:-This step also requires DNA polymerase enzyme for joining the complementary nucleotides. Each daughter molecule contains an old and a new strand.

• Replication of DNA strand has an origin point at which the replication is initiated. It may also have a terminus point where the replication of DNA is terminated. A ' Y ' shaped structure is formed at the point of replication which is called as "replication fork ". • Replication of DNA may be unidirectional or bidirectional. During DNA replication, one nucleotide is joined with another. Each nucleotide already has a phosphate group at the 5' carbon atom and it is joined to 3' carbon atom of the sugar molecule. • Thus the synthesis of DNA molecule takes place in the 5'>3' direction with the help of DNA polymerase enzyme. But this causes a problem at the replication fork where only one of the new strands run in the 5'->3' direction ( the template for this strand runs in the 3'->5' direction). This strand is called as LEADING STRAND.

• The template for the other strand runs in the 5'->3' direction, but DNA synthesis could only take place in 5'->3' direction. Thus, this poses a problem and due to this reason synthesis has to begin in the replication fork. • Replication of the 5'->3' parental strand begins as soon as the DNA molecule unwinds and unzips replication of this strand is discontinuous. The replication of this strand results in segment called OKAZAKI FRAGMENTS. • Discontinuous replication takes more time than continuous replication therefore the new strand in this case is called the LAGGING STRAND.

DNA Replication

Summary
• • • • • • • • • • Chromosomes are thread like structures in nucleus. They are studied generally at Metaphase stage of Mitosis. Chromosomes are made up of DNA & proteins. Chromosome number (2n) of species is constant. Chromosomes may be rod shaped / V / J / L shaped. DNA is the hereditary material. It act as director of Protein synthesis. There are 2 nucleic acids DNA & RNA. Man has 46 chromosomes i.e. 23 pairs. Chromosomes Common to males and females are referred to as “Autosomes” (22 pairs in human). • Chromosome determining the sex of an individual are called sex chromosomes (XY in males & XX in females).