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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.
Japanese researchers discover new method for predicting congenital CMV infection in fetuses

Japanese researchers discover new method for predicting congenital CMV infection in fetuses

Congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection can cause serious complications such as hearing difficulties and mental retardation in affected infants. [More]
Landmark study of virosphere uncovers 1445 viruses

Landmark study of virosphere uncovers 1445 viruses

A landmark study of the virosphere of the most populous animals – those without backbones such as insects, spiders and worms and that live around our houses – has uncovered 1445 viruses, revealing people have only scratched the surface of the world of viruses – but it is likely that only a few cause disease. [More]
Scientists take one step forward by finding how antibody neutralizes Zika infection

Scientists take one step forward by finding how antibody neutralizes Zika infection

As Zika spreads throughout the world, the call for rapid development of therapeutics to treat Zika rings loud and clear. [More]
New ULB study shows how cancer cell of origin controls malignant transition

New ULB study shows how cancer cell of origin controls malignant transition

Researchers at the Université libre de Bruxelles, ULB define for the first time how the cancer cell of origin controls invasive and metastatic properties of tumor cells. [More]
HSCI researchers use color tagging system to track development of blood stem cells

HSCI researchers use color tagging system to track development of blood stem cells

Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) researchers have used a colorful, cell-labeling technique to track the development of the blood system and trace the lineage of adult blood cells travelling through the vast networks of veins, arteries, and capillaries back to their parent stem cell in the marrow. [More]
Researchers identify simple, inexpensive tool for assessing prognosis of pediatric brain tumors

Researchers identify simple, inexpensive tool for assessing prognosis of pediatric brain tumors

A multi-institutional group of researchers, led by investigators at Children's Hospital Los Angeles and the University of Michigan, have identified a simple and inexpensive tool for assessing the prognosis of pediatric brain tumors called ependymomas. [More]
Scientists develop new technology that sheds light on HIV infection

Scientists develop new technology that sheds light on HIV infection

A group of researchers at the Centre for Genomic Regulation and the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, Spain, have developed a new technology that sheds light on the HIV infection and offers a first glance at the expression landscape of the HIV in the human genome. [More]
Biologists create bright red fluorescent protein to track essential cellular processes

Biologists create bright red fluorescent protein to track essential cellular processes

After years of trying, biologists have succeeded in creating an extremely bright red fluorescent protein in the lab. [More]
Study reveals link between genes for academic achievement and partner choices

Study reveals link between genes for academic achievement and partner choices

A study co-led by the University of East Anglia (UEA) has found that people with genes for high educational achievement tend to marry, and have children with, people with similar DNA. [More]
Pitt researcher finds way to regenerate heart tissues in mammals

Pitt researcher finds way to regenerate heart tissues in mammals

Many lower forms of life on earth exhibit an extraordinary ability to regenerate tissue, limbs, and even organs--a skill that is lost among humans and other mammals. [More]
Mayo Clinic researchers discover potential cause and new treatment for rare soft tissue cancer

Mayo Clinic researchers discover potential cause and new treatment for rare soft tissue cancer

Researchers at Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine have discovered a potential cause and a promising new treatment for inflammatory myofibroblastic tumors, a rare soft tissue cancer that does not respond to radiation or chemotherapy. [More]
Study finds genomic regions with copy number variants linked to schizophrenia risk

Study finds genomic regions with copy number variants linked to schizophrenia risk

Many of the genetic variations that increase risk for schizophrenia are rare, making it difficult to study their role in the disease. [More]
Einstein researcher receives $7.5 million NIH grant to study genetics of congenital heart disease

Einstein researcher receives $7.5 million NIH grant to study genetics of congenital heart disease

The National Institutes of Health has awarded Bernice Morrow, Ph.D., at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and collaborators at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia a five-year, $7.5 million grant to study the genetics of congenital heart abnormalities. [More]
Study reveals how tumor cells turn into cancer stem cells to renew outbreaks

Study reveals how tumor cells turn into cancer stem cells to renew outbreaks

An international study led by scientists from the Crick Institute in London and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem revealed a survival mechanism in cancer cells that allows the disease to erupt again even after aggressive treatment. [More]
Researchers make significant progress in developing frontline protection against HIV infection

Researchers make significant progress in developing frontline protection against HIV infection

Researchers have made significant progress in the development of a potential vaccine to protect against HIV infection. [More]
MEMOIR can help read history and ‘family trees’ of cells

MEMOIR can help read history and ‘family trees’ of cells

Researchers have developed a new method for reading the history and "family trees" of cells. [More]
New study shows link between defective sucrase-isomaltase gene variants and IBS

New study shows link between defective sucrase-isomaltase gene variants and IBS

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects a large portion of the general population. New research coordinated by Karolinska Institutet now shows a link between defective sucrase-isomaltase gene variants and IBS. [More]
Researchers find drug-resistant bacteria in air samples

Researchers find drug-resistant bacteria in air samples

Polluted city air has now been identified as a possible means of transmission for resistant bacteria. Researchers in Gothenburg have shown that air samples from Beijing contain DNA from genes that make bacteria resistant to the most powerful antibiotics we have. [More]
Results of high-impact clinical trials could improve kidney-related medical care

Results of high-impact clinical trials could improve kidney-related medical care

The results of numerous high-impact clinical trials that could affect kidney-related medical care will be presented at ASN Kidney Week 2016, November 15-20 at McCormick Place in Chicago, IL. [More]
Scientists capture DNA intermediates that reveal how cancer evolves

Scientists capture DNA intermediates that reveal how cancer evolves

Scientists from Rice University, Baylor College of Medicine and other institutions are using synthetic biology to capture elusive, short-lived snippets of DNA that healthy cells produce on their way to becoming cancerous. [More]
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