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Biomolecules and biomolecular assemblies interact

Biomolecules and biomolecular assemblies interact in specific, highly-regulated ways to transfer sequence information between biopolymers in living organisms. By storing and transferring biological information, DNA and RNA enable living organisms to reproduce their complex components from one generation to the next. The nucleotide monomers of these biopolymers, being joined by phosphodiester linkages, form a polynucleotide molecule with a “backbone” composed of repeating sugar-phosphate units and “appendages” of nitrogenous bases. The unique sequence of bases in each gene provides specific information to the cell.

DNA molecules are composed of two polynucleotides that spiral around an imaginary axis, forming a double helix. The two polynucleotides are held together by hydrogen bonds between the paired bases and van der Waals interactions between the stacked bases. The pairing between the bases of two polynucleotides is very specific, and its complementarity allows for a precise replication of the DNA molecule.

The DNA inherited by an organism leads to specific traits by dictating the synthesis of the biomolecules (RNA molecules and proteins) involved in protein synthesis. While every cell in a multicellular organism inherits the same DNA, its expression is precisely regulated such that different genes are expressed by cells at different stages of development, by cells in different tissues, and by cells exposed to different stimuli.

The topics included in this category concern not only the molecular mechanisms of the transmission of genetic information from the gene to the protein (transcription and translation), but also the biosynthesis of the important molecules and molecular assemblies that are involved in these mechanisms. The control of gene expression in prokaryotes and eukaryotes is also included.

Broadly speaking, the field of biotechnology uses biological systems, living organisms, or derivatives thereof, to make or modify products or processes for specific use. The biotechnological techniques emphasized in this category, however, are those that take advantage of the complementary structure of double-stranded DNA molecules to synthesize, sequence, and amplify them, and to analyze and identify unknown polynucleotide sequences. Included within this treatment of biotechnology are those practical applications which directly impact humans, such as medical applications, human gene therapy, and pharmaceuticals.

Content in this category covers the biopolymers, including ribonucleic acid (RNA), deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), proteins, and the biochemical processes involved in carrying out the transfer of biological information from DNA.