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DNA replication - illustration

An overview of DNA replication. Before a cell can divide, it must first duplicate its DNA. This figure provides an overview of the DNA replication process. In the first step, a portion of the double helix (blue) is unwound by a helicase. Next, a molecule of DNA polymerase (green) binds to one strand of the DNA. It moves along the strand, using it as a template for assembling a leading strand (red) of nucleotides and reforming a double helix. Because DNA synthesis can only occur 5' to 3', a second DNA polymerase molecule (also green) is used to bind to the other emplate strand as the double helix opens. This molecule must synthesize discontinuous segments of polynucleotides (called Okazaki Fragments). Another enzyme, DNA Ligase (yellow), then stitches these together into the lagging strand.

Illustration courtesy of National Center for Biotechnology Information.



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