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ANALYSIS OF THE PHYSICS BEHIND DNA ACTIVITIES AND FUNCTIONS

CHAPTER ONE

  •  INTRODUCTION
  • BACKGROUND OF STUDY

 

            Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is a molecule that encodes the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all living organisms and many viruses known to man. Along with RNA and the proteins, DNA is one of the three major macromolecules vital for all identified forms of life. Genetic information is encoded in form of a sequence of nucleotides (guanine, adenine, thymine, and cytosine) recorded using the letters C, T, A and G. Mainly DNA molecules are double-stranded helices. They consist of two long polymers of simple units by name nucleotides, molecules with backbones consist of alternating sugars (deoxyribose) and phosphate groups (related to phosphoric acid), with the nucleobases (G, A, T, C) attached to the sugars. DNA is well-suited for biological storage of information, because the DNA backbone is resistant to cleavage and the double-stranded structure gives the molecule a built-in duplicate of the encoded information. (Cantor and Schimmel, 1980).

These two strands run in opposite directions to each other and are therefore anti-parallel, one backbone being 3′ (three prime) and the other, 5′ (five prime). These are references to the direction the 3rd and 5th carbon on the sugar molecule is facing. One of four types of molecules called nucleobases (informally, bases) is attached to each sugar. It is the sequence of the nucleobases along this backbone that encodes information. This information is decoded with the genetic code, it specifies the sequence of the amino acids in the proteins. The code is therefore decoded by copying stretches of DNA into the corresponding nucleic acid RNA, this process is called transcription.

Within cells, DNA is arranged into long structures named chromosomes. When cell division is taking place these chromosomes are duplicated in the DNA replication process, giving every cell its own complete chromosomes set. Eukaryotic organisms (animals, plants, fungi, as well as protists) have most of their DNA stored inside the cell nucleus and some in organelles, example, mitochondria or chloroplasts (Bustamante et al .,1994).In the opposite, prokaryotes (bacteria and archaea) store their DNA in the cytoplasm only. Within the chromosomes, chromatin proteins, example, histones compact and arrange DNA. These vital compact structures direct the interactions among DNA and other proteins, controlling which parts of the DNA being transcribed (Chen et al.,1994).

DNA plays a crucial role in all living organisms because it is the key molecule responsible for storage, duplication, and realization of genetic information. The most significant parts are genes, parts of DNA, they carry information regarding the sequence of amino acids in proteins. The importance of the DNA molecule cannot be overestimated. It is therefore natural that the molecule has been attracting attention not only of biologists and physicians but also of chemists and physicists, even theorists (for a popular introduction into the field of DNA science, see, e.g., Frank-Kamenetskii, 1993; 1997). Beyond forty years already, the DNA molecule has been a matter of biophysical studies. Many outstanding physicists who made their names in various areas of traditional physics mainly in solid state physics did so by studying DNA. I.M. Lifshitz did not publish numerous papers on DNA. Nonetheless, his part in focusing interest of physicists toward DNA biophysics was very significant, especially in the USSR. Due to his enthusiasm and unquestionable reputation between Soviet physicists, DNA, protein biophysics for the moment became a focus of attention of the Soviet physics community. This community was a exceptional phenomenon in the world of science.( Cherny et al.,1993)

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  • AIM AND OBJECTIVES

 

The aim and objectives of this research are as follows-

  • To review and analyze the physics behind DNA activities and functions and
  • To bring to the open the mystery and possible areas of research and development as regards to the biophysics of DNA .
  • SCOPE OF THE STUDY

 

At an undergraduate level and owing to fund constraint, this research work is limited to analytical review of already done work in this regards and making overview of the area of DNA biophysics in retrospective.

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Topic: ANALYSIS OF THE PHYSICS BEHIND DNA ACTIVITIES AND FUNCTIONS

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