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DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is the hereditary material in humans and almost all other organisms. Nearly every cell in a person’s body has the same DNA. Most DNA is located in the cell nucleus (where it is called nuclear DNA), but a small amount of DNA can also be found in the mitochondria (where it is called mitochondrial DNA or mtDNA).

The information in DNA is stored as a code made up of four chemical bases: adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C), and thymine (T). Human DNA consists of about 3 billion bases, and more than 99 percent of those bases are the same in all people. The order, or sequence, of these bases determines the information available for building and maintaining an organism, similar to the way in which letters of the alphabet appear in a certain order to form words and sentences.

DNA bases pair up with each other, A with T and C with G, to form units called base pairs. Each base is also attached to a sugar molecule and a phosphate molecule. Together, a base, sugar, and phosphate are called a nucleotide. Nucleotides are arranged in two long strands that form a spiral called a double helix. The structure of the double helix is somewhat like a ladder, with the base pairs forming the ladder’s rungs and the sugar and phosphate molecules forming the vertical sidepieces of the ladder.

An important property of DNA is that it can replicate, or make copies of itself. Each strand of DNA in the double helix can serve as a pattern for duplicating the sequence of bases. This is critical when cells divide because each new cell needs to have an exact copy of the DNA present in the old cell.
TRIP13 protein encourages cancer cells to repair themselves

TRIP13 protein encourages cancer cells to repair themselves

Imagine you're fighting for your life but no matter how hard you hit, your opponent won't go down. The same can be said of highly treatment-resistant cancers, such as head and neck cancer, where during radiation and chemotherapy some cancer cells repair themselves, survive and thrive. [More]
Study shows sustained immunogenicity, efficacy and safety of GlaxoSmithKline's HPV vaccine

Study shows sustained immunogenicity, efficacy and safety of GlaxoSmithKline's HPV vaccine

A long-term follow-up study (HPV-023; NCT00518336) shows the sustained efficacy, immunogenicity and safety of GlaxoSmithKline's human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine Cervarix. [More]
Findings advance fundamental understanding of DNA damage by UV rays

Findings advance fundamental understanding of DNA damage by UV rays

In the same week that the U.S. surgeon general issued a 101-page report about the dangers of skin cancer, researchers at Montana State University published a paper breaking new ground on how DNA - the genetic code in every cell - responds when exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light. [More]
Researchers identify possible new drug target for treating childhood blood cancer

Researchers identify possible new drug target for treating childhood blood cancer

In what is believed to be the largest genetic analysis of what triggers and propels progression of tumor growth in a common childhood blood cancer, researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center report that they have identified a possible new drug target for treating the disease. [More]
Blood and saliva tests help accurately predict recurrences of HPV associated oral cancers

Blood and saliva tests help accurately predict recurrences of HPV associated oral cancers

Physicians at Johns Hopkins have developed blood and saliva tests that help accurately predict recurrences of HPV-linked oral cancers in a substantial number of patients. [More]
Identification of new molecular mechanism indicates new ways to block uncontrolled cell division

Identification of new molecular mechanism indicates new ways to block uncontrolled cell division

In a study published today in Genes & Development, Dr Christian Speck from the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre's DNA Replication group, in collaboration with Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), New York, reveal the intricate mechanisms involved in the enzyme that governs DNA duplication during cell division. [More]
Rice, Baylor scientists analyze how influenza-related proteins help infect cells

Rice, Baylor scientists analyze how influenza-related proteins help infect cells

A flu virus acts like a Trojan horse as it attacks and infects host cells. Scientists at Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine have acquired a clearer view of the well-hidden mechanism involved. [More]
Mice lacking specific protein live longer lives with fewer age-related illnesses

Mice lacking specific protein live longer lives with fewer age-related illnesses

While developing a new cancer drug, researchers at The Wistar Institute discovered that mice lacking a specific protein live longer lives with fewer age-related illnesses. [More]
Researchers identify RNA that modulates action of important gene in process of programmed cell death

Researchers identify RNA that modulates action of important gene in process of programmed cell death

Researchers from the University of S-o Paulo (USP) have identified an RNA known as INXS that, although containing no instructions for the production of a protein, modulates the action of an important gene in the process of apoptosis, or programmed cell death. [More]
Discovery could lead to development of new cancer therapies

Discovery could lead to development of new cancer therapies

DNA mutations-long known to fuel cancer as well as evolutionary changes in a living organism-had been thought to be rare events that occur randomly throughout the genome. [More]
Researchers discover new function of body's most important tumor-suppressing protein

Researchers discover new function of body's most important tumor-suppressing protein

Researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) have discovered a new function of the body's most important tumor-suppressing protein. Called p53, this protein has been called "the guardian of the genome." [More]
Alterations to single gene could predict risk of suicide attempt

Alterations to single gene could predict risk of suicide attempt

Johns Hopkins researchers say they have discovered a chemical alteration in a single human gene linked to stress reactions that, if confirmed in larger studies, could give doctors a simple blood test to reliably predict a person's risk of attempting suicide. [More]
Researchers investigate hereditary breast cancer to find new treatment approaches

Researchers investigate hereditary breast cancer to find new treatment approaches

Deborah Kelly and Zhi Sheng, assistant professors at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, recently received a grant from the Commonwealth Health Research Board to investigate hereditary breast cancer, an effort that may lead to new treatment approaches. [More]
Researchers confirm for the first time that achalasia is autoimmune in origin

Researchers confirm for the first time that achalasia is autoimmune in origin

Achalasia is a rare disease - it affects 1 in 100,000 people - characterized by a loss of nerve cells in the esophageal wall. [More]
Researchers identify porcine enterovirus G using next-generation sequencing

Researchers identify porcine enterovirus G using next-generation sequencing

He calls himself the bug hunter, but the target of his work consists of viruses that can only be found and identified with special methods and instruments. [More]
Study suggests healthy diet, sleep and exercise can mitigate negative impacts of stress

Study suggests healthy diet, sleep and exercise can mitigate negative impacts of stress

A new study from UC San Francisco is the first to show that while the impact of life's stressors accumulate overtime and accelerate cellular aging, these negative effects may be reduced by maintaining a healthy diet, exercising and sleeping well. [More]
University of Bradford researchers devise simple blood test to diagnose cancer

University of Bradford researchers devise simple blood test to diagnose cancer

Researchers from the University of Bradford, UK, have devised a simple blood test that can be used to diagnose whether people have cancer or not. [More]
Urinary microbiome altered in urge incontinence

Urinary microbiome altered in urge incontinence

The frequency and nature of bacteria in the urinary tract differs significantly between healthy women and those with urge incontinence, a US study demonstrates. [More]
Nicotine, cotinine can potentially inhibit DNA damage caused by NNK in tobacco smoke

Nicotine, cotinine can potentially inhibit DNA damage caused by NNK in tobacco smoke

A new in vitro study has revealed that nicotine and cotinine, a metabolite of nicotine, can potentially inhibit DNA damage caused by a certain carcinogen in smoke. [More]
Antifungal drug resistance evoked through RNAi-dependent epimutations

Antifungal drug resistance evoked through RNAi-dependent epimutations

Microorganisms like bacteria and fungi can evade treatment by acquiring mutations in the genes targeted by antibiotics or antifungal drugs. [More]