What is the role of dna polymerase in dna replication?

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Nov 24, 2015

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It makes a new strand of DNA by joining nucleotide molecules together.

Explanation:

Initially we have our DNA strand which we want to replicate by semi conservative replication:

a.files.bbci.co.uk/bam/live/content/zvvjtfr/large

The enzyme DNA Helicase rips open the DNA from the middle like a zipper:

a.files.bbci.co.uk/bam/live/content/z33qhyc/large

So now the DNA has exposed nucleotides (the thin bars protruding from the strand). Now those bars would like to get paired up with their counterparts.

  • A with T and vice versa
  • C with G and vice versa

Now the counterparts are freely floating around in the cell. So when the bases of the strand get exposed, these freely floating bases are attracted towards their counterpart and come to rest in front of them.

Although the free nucleotides get attached to the nucleotides on the strand, they don't get attached to each other. It is important that happens because unless the free nucleotides attach with one another, the backbone of the new DNA molecule wouldn't form.

You might be guessing where this is going. If you guessed DNA polymerase, then you're right!

  • DNA Polymerase is the enzyme that glues together the free nucleotides so they join together in a single nucleotide backbone.

a.files.bbci.co.uk/bam/live/content/zgg2n39/large

This is a neat animation that shows you how DNA Polymerase extends the DNA strand:
http://highered.mheducation.com/olc/dl/120076/bio23.swf

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