Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is the carrier of genetic information, including for all known living organisms. The only known exceptions are RNA viruses.

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Why is uracil used in RNA rather than thymine?

What is the advantage gained by the substitution of thymine with uracil? I have read previously that it is due to thymine being "better protected" and therefore more suited to the storage role of ...
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5answers
10k views

Does DNA have the equivalent of IF-statements, WHILE loops, or function calls? How about GOTO?

Does DNA have anything like IF-statements, GOTO-jumps, or WHILE loops? In software development, these constructs have the following functions: IF-statements: An IF statement executes the code in a ...
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5answers
3k views

Life without DNA?

I'm by no means an expert in the field, merely a curious visitor, but I've been thinking about this and Google isn't of much help. Do we know of any lifeforms that don't have the conventional ...
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4answers
2k views

What exactly are computers used for in DNA sequencing?

I've thoroughly read the Wikipedia article on DNA sequencing and can't get one thing. There's some hardcore chemistry involved in the process that somehow splits the DNA and then isolates its parts. ...
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2answers
2k views

How do cockroaches resist the effects of ionizing radiation?

Cockroaches are very hardy insects. It is known that, among other things, they are able to withstand bursts of ionizing radiation that would kill a human being. The explanations of this observed ...
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2answers
6k views

What is the advantage of circular DNA in bacteria?

From what I understand, bacteria have circular DNA. What advantages does it have over linear strands like for eukaryotes? Do there exist bacteria with more than one ring of DNA?
28
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3answers
14k views

Why do eukaryotic organisms have introns in their DNA?

We touched on introns and exons in my bio class, but unfortunately we didn't really talk about why Eukaryotes have introns. It would seem they would have to have some purpose since prokaryotes do not ...
27
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3answers
451 views

Is telomere length a reliable measure of health/lifespan?

Several companies are commercializing tests for telomere length such as this one here. I understand the basic mechanism for why telomeres shorten during DNA replication, but how good is the evidence ...
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2k views

Which organism has the smallest genome length?

Which animal/plant/anything has smallest length genome?
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4answers
3k views

Why are there exactly four nucleobases in DNA?

Does someone know why DNA is composed of four nucleobases? In particular, is there an explanation for the number? Why four and not two, or eight?
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6answers
1k views

Could Junk DNA be used as a Turing Machine by nature?

In what ways has DNA been studied to see if there a "programmable" aspect to it? Has nature produced anything resembling a Turing machine within the cell, perhaps using the "junk DNA" as its code? I ...
15
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2answers
257 views

Can methylation from DNA get copied to RNA during transcription?

Methylation on gene-body and 3'UTRs if copied to mRNA can potentially regulate post-transcription modifications or expression regulation. But I'm not sure if they are maintained after transcription or ...
15
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2k views

Is there an advantage to linear chromosomes?

The DNA copying enzymes have a hard time working to the end of a chromosome. For circular chromosomes this is not a problem, since there is not a sharp 'end'. However, for a linear chromosome, without ...
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3answers
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What implications has the missing 2'-OH on the capability of DNA to form 3D structures?

The chemical difference between RNA and DNA is the missing 2'-hydroxyl group in the nucleotides that build DNA. The major effect of that change that I know of is the higher stability of DNA compared ...
13
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4answers
69k views

Why is DNA replication performed in the 5' to 3' direction?

DNA replication goes in the 5' to 3' direction because DNA polymerase acts on the 3'-OH of the existing strand for adding free nucleotides. Is there any biochemical reason why all organisms evolved to ...
13
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2answers
249 views

What is the contribution of viruses to the evolution of mankind?

I'm interested in horizontal gene transfer in bacteria, viruses, and organisms such as Bdelloid Rotifers. I've just read in Carl Zimmer's 'A Planet of Viruses' the following passage: As a host ...
13
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1answer
208 views

What is the prehistory of amino acids in cells?

As a followup to Why 20 amino acids instead of 64? and What is the smallest number of amino acids required for life?, I am trying to understand the prehistory of amino acids in cells. All living ...
12
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7answers
2k views

Is there a biological mechanism for evolution encoded into our DNA?

Throughout high school, I remember learning about Darwin's theory of evolution as if it were near-fact. But something always seemed wrong about the ideas presented. Survival of the fittest Random ...
12
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4answers
677 views

Why did high A+T content create problems for the Plasmodium falciparum genome project?

The main paper for the Plasmodium palciparum genome project (Gardner et al., 2002) repeatedly mentioned that the unusually high A+T content (~80%) of the genome caused problems. For example they imply ...
12
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2answers
178 views

Are there viruses that affect cells across different species?

I'm not a professional in biology nor a student, but I'm curious about this. To be more specific: why doesn't a plant virus affect animal cells? I suspect that different kinds of cells have different ...
12
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2answers
549 views

Do mitochondria simply automatically convert glucose to ATP?

I wonder whether there is any intelligent decision-making in mitochondria in the timing of their operation. Do they simply begin ATP production as soon as the correct reactants are present? Or, ...
12
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2answers
263 views

Do transcription factors bind to both strands of DNA?

Do transcription factors (or generally proteins) bind to only single strand of DNA or both strands? Since it can have non covalent bonds to both strands in theory. I would like to know the mechanism. ...
12
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2answers
210 views

Can DNA produce ribozyme-like structures?

RNA is known to act as an enzyme via its ability to fold itself in specific ways. Is DNA capable of such structures? Or is it some biochemical reason stopping the folding? Have they been observed in ...
12
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1answer
220 views

Abiogenesis: Beyond the research journals as a lead in to discussions on evolution

I just came across this abstract: Aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (aaRSs) are responsible for creating the pool of correctly charged aminoacyl-tRNAs that are necessary for the translation of genetic ...
12
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3answers
12k views

How many agarose gel bands are typical for circularised DNA

I am aware that circular DNA can be both relaxed and super coiled. However when running an agarose gel of the circular plasmid along with singly digested plasmid with BamHI and HindIII, I see 1 band ...
12
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3answers
387 views

What is Curved DNA?

CbpA is DNA binding protein found in E. coli and binds non-specifically to curved DNA (Cosgriff et al., 2010), when the bacterium is in a static phase of growth. The use of "curved DNA" confuses me. ...
12
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1answer
321 views

Can DNA act as a translation substrate?

I get conflicting answers. One would think if it was true, it would be rather seminal and widely known. There are papers from Khorana[1], Holland[2], and Bretscher[3] (late 60s) that suggest that it ...
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The Uniqueness of DNA Paradox

How can everyone have unique iris and fingerprints? After a certain amount of human beings have lived on earth, wouldn't it be possible to exhaust all possible combinations? The same principle ...
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418 views

What can you tell about a person, having only their whole genome as information?

Well, the question is in the title, no explanation need.
11
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4answers
189 views

Is there any other function of DNA?

We all know that DNA acts as a genetic molecule. Does DNA have any other function in the cell other than being a genetic material and carrier of information?
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2answers
7k views

Does an annealing temp higher than primer's Tm contribute to primer dimer?

I am attempting to reproduce results from a number of journal articles all referring to the same SNP. In doing this I'm using the same primer set outlined in the articles. When I attempted a run the ...
11
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1answer
590 views

How do CpG islands remain unmethylated?

In most of the genome CpG sites are pretty much always methylated, but CpG islands are instead often unmethylated. This has been linked to the fact that they often are associated to transcripted ...
11
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1answer
660 views

Why is the 3'UTR region highly methylated in most of the human genes?

Most of the human genes are found to be highly methylated in their 3'UTR region (0.8-0.9%). I was wondering if there is any specific reason for this?
11
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2answers
436 views

What are the limitations to current nucleotide sequencing technologies?

Using the Illumina platform, it is cheap and (relatively) easy to sequence huge amounts of DNA or RNA. There are various other platforms out there (Roche/454, SOLiD, PacBio, Ion Torrent) each with ...
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Do apes and humans share 99% of DNA or 99% of genes? What is the difference?

I made an answer on the Scifi.SE that can be read here. It is about how the characters in the story Jurassic Park might have gotten DNA for all the species shown. In my answer, I said this: Apes ...
10
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4answers
795 views

“Same” DNA vs genes

It is often cited that humans share 99% (or 98%) of their DNA with chimpanzees. On the other hand it is stated that siblings share only half of their genes. What (if any) is the difference between ...
10
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2answers
1k views

How is DNA Read

Little odd question here. I was told that DNA was read in groups of three. Assuming this, my question is: Which way would better describe how the DNA is read. (123)456789 to 123(456)789 to ...
10
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1answer
27k views

Why do we add salt when precipitating DNA?

All the DNA extraction protocols I have seen involve adding salts to the extraction buffer. What is the purpose of the salts? What happens if they aren't included?
10
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3answers
1k views

Why deoxyribose for DNA and ribose for RNA?

Why is DNA made out of deoxyribose and RNA made of ribose? Why can't they both use ribose or deoxyribose? I think that the deoxyribose gives an advantage in storing genes, the job of DNA and ribose is ...
10
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2answers
334 views

Are there differences in DNA between humans of today and humans from 2000 years ago?

Are there any significant differences in our genome compared to the genes of our ancestors from 1000-2000 years ago? And if there are significant differences, do they result in significant ...
10
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1answer
2k views

How to DIY preserve pet DNA today so that it can be used in 20 years

I know that there are companies that offer a kit+storage of your pet DNA for around $2k. My question is if there is any other option for doing this yourself with a thought in mind that in 20+ years ...
10
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1answer
197 views

How can you identify if a person is homozygous for a certain allele?

I've been thinking about starting a small private research project. In this project I need to find out whether a person is homozygous for a certain allele. The reason for this is that I'm really ...
9
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3answers
2k views

Does a man contain all the genes needed to make a woman?

This question is brought on by a Sci Fi novel I am thinking about writing. The plot device involves a colonist in charge of building a population on a new planet who loses his supply of embryos and so ...
9
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3answers
206 views

Does GFAJ-1 use Adenosine triarsenate as its energy currency?

Regarding the bacteria found in Mono Lake, CA that scientists believe uses or can use arsenic in its DNA backbone where life as we know it uses phosphorus (according to their experiments depriving the ...
9
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1answer
449 views

How are we able to find the specific sites at which DNA binding proteins bind?

We know that some DNA binding proteins are site specific, that is they recognise and bind to a specific nucleotide sequence. My question is how can we precisely tell at which sites they bind? Is it ...
9
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3answers
395 views

Source of DNA sequences

I'm working on a project where I am taking DNA sequences and translating the codons into musical notes. I have some good ideas of how to do this, I'm just not sure what sequences to work with. My case ...
9
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3answers
207 views

What would need to be discovered to prove there is extraterrestrial life?

Curiosity is on the Martian surface and is equipped with a slew of laboratory equipment. What would Curiosity need to discover to prove there is or has been life on Mars? Would it have to find DNA (or ...
9
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1answer
619 views

How many gigabytes of DNA are there on earth?

The human genome is about 770 MB, the C. elegans genome is about 100 MB, the yeast S. cerevisiae is about 12 MB. Different other genomes have been sequenced: how many GB of genomic DNA we have now? ...
9
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4answers
233 views

How can I avoid digesting protein-bound DNA?

I'm interested in sequencing and analyzing the bound DNA, and minimizing the amount of unbound DNA that gets sequenced through digestion. When digesting protein-bound DNA, is all of the unbound DNA ...
9
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1answer
434 views

Does DNA react in all of the ways most other acids do?

As I understand it from my basic chemistry, there are some fundamental reactions that exist between any acid and other substances for example acid-base reactions that form a salt, and the existence of ...