Replicative DNA Helicases and Primases
Replication of a cell’s genetic material is one of the most fundamental functions in biology. The genetic information defining each species is encoded within the sequence of the DNA double helix, and to be copied into a new genome, the sequence of the parental DNA must be revealed and made available to copying enzymes known as DNA polymerases. Watson and Crick, in their seminal 1953 paper on the “Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids” (Watson and Crick 1953), pointed out that “the specific base pairing (Guanine to Cytosine and Adenine to Thymine) immediately suggests a possible copying mechanism for the genetic material.” They further postulated that “prior to duplication the hydrogen bonds break and the two chains unwind and separate” and asked “what makes the pair of chains unwind and separate?” The answer to this important question is DNA helicases.
DNA helicases are molecular motors that convert chemical energy from NTP (nucleoside triphosphate) binding and...
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