How Does DNA Replication Work?

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DNA replication works by creating new cells every time new hair grows, new fingernails grow or a cut heals over. See how DNA replication works constantly to renew the cells in the body with information from a biology teacher in this free video on science.

Part of the Video Series: DNA Structure & Testing
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When I was growing up, I used to hear my mother say "You got your father's nose." Gosh, how did that happen, I think. He seems to still have his nose on. Well, it actually means that I inherited the genetic material that's similar to my father's and so we have noses that look alike. Hi, I'm Janice Crenetti. I've been teaching biology in high school for about twenty years and I'm here to talk to you today about "How does DNA replication work?" This is a DNA molecule. I think of the DNA molecule as being the blueprint that makes us us, determines your hair color and your eye color, even your tendency to get certain diseases. This DNA exists throughout every cell, just about every single cell in the human body. If you could put it all together, you'd have a whole lot of it. Well, every time you grow new hair, or you grow the fingernails, or even if your cut heals over, you produce new skin. DNA is replicating. Every time you have more cells produce, you have to have the DNA that becomes the center of the cell, which means DNA has to reproduce itself. So, how exactly does that work? Well, DNA is a double-stranded helix. If you could unwind what you would see on the TV here, you'd see something like this. What happens is, DNA, the two strands will actually begin to separate, and as they separate, there's this little enzyme called DNA polymerase that's going to grab more parts of the DNA, more bases, and bring them up, and match them to their partner. So, you'll actually get one whole DNA strand forming on this strand, and one whole new DNA strand forming on that strand, so after DNA replication has happened, you're actually going to have two complete double helixes that are exact copies of each other. Like I said, DNA replication happens every time your hair grows, every time a cut heals, anytime your body is producing more cells, it has to make more DNA because that DNA is going to direct how those new cells are created. It's a pretty complicated process and occasionally things go wrong. That's what a mutation is. But without DNA replication, you wouldn't be able to grow. I'm Janice Crenetti, and this is "How does DNA Replication work?"

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