Surprisingly many peculiar long introns found in brain genes

In a recent study of genes involved in brain functioning, their previously unknown features have been uncovered by bioinformaticians from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology and the Institute of Mathematical Problems ...


The protein that stands between us and autoimmunity

The immune system is supposed to protect from external microbial invaders, but sometimes it turns its efforts inward, potentially resulting in autoimmune diseases. In a new study, researchers from Osaka University have discovered ...


New genomic atlas of the developing human brain

For the nascent brain of a human embryo to develop into the complex organ that controls human consciousness, a finely tuned sequence of genetic events has to take place; hundreds of genes are activated and deactivated in ...

Oncology & Cancer

Scientists uncover signposts in DNA for cancer, disease risk

By sequencing entire genomes for DNA modifications, and analyzing both cancer tissues and healthy ones, Hackensack Meridian Health researchers and doctors have found what could be a key to risks for cancer and other diseases: ...

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Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms and some viruses. The main role of DNA molecules is the long-term storage of information. DNA is often compared to a set of blueprints or a recipe, or a code, since it contains the instructions needed to construct other components of cells, such as proteins and RNA molecules. The DNA segments that carry this genetic information are called genes, but other DNA sequences have structural purposes, or are involved in regulating the use of this genetic information.

Chemically, DNA consists of two long polymers of simple units called nucleotides, with backbones made of sugars and phosphate groups joined by ester bonds. These two strands run in opposite directions to each other and are therefore anti-parallel. Attached to each sugar is one of four types of molecules called bases. It is the sequence of these four bases along the backbone that encodes information. This information is read using the genetic code, which specifies the sequence of the amino acids within proteins. The code is read by copying stretches of DNA into the related nucleic acid RNA, in a process called transcription.

Within cells, DNA is organized into X-shaped structures called chromosomes. These chromosomes are duplicated before cells divide, in a process called DNA replication. Eukaryotic organisms (animals, plants, fungi, and protists) store most of their DNA inside the cell nucleus and some of their DNA in the mitochondria (animals and plants) and chloroplasts (plants only). Prokaryotes (bacteria and archaea) however, store their DNA in the cell's cytoplasm. Within the chromosomes, chromatin proteins such as histones compact and organize DNA. These compact structures guide the interactions between DNA and other proteins, helping control which parts of the DNA are transcribed.

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