What is a Coiled Strand of DNA Called? Unraveling the Mystery of DNA

What do you call a coiled strand of DNA? This is a question that has been asked by many people, and the answer is quite simple – it’s called a double helix. You may have heard this term before, but do you know what it actually means? Essentially, a double helix is two strands of DNA that are twisted together in a specific shape. It’s a fascinating structure, and it plays a crucial role in genetic information storage.

When you think of DNA, you may imagine a long, thin strand that floats around in the body. However, the truth is that the structure of DNA is much more complex than that. The double helix shape allows for compact storage of genetic information, as well as easy replication and transcription. In other words, it’s what makes the genetic code work. Understanding the structure of DNA is important for many areas of science, from medicine to genetics to biotechnology. So, the next time you hear the term “double helix,” remember that it’s not just a scientific buzzword – it’s a vital part of our genetic makeup.

A coiled strand of DNA is not just a simple shape – it’s a complex and dynamic structure that holds all the blueprints for life. From the smallest bacteria to the most complex mammal, all living things rely on the double helix to carry out their biological functions. Without this crucial structure, life as we know it would not be possible. So, the next time you see a diagram of a double helix or hear someone talking about DNA, take a moment to appreciate just how amazing this structure really is. After all, it’s what makes us who we are.

Double Helix Structure

The double helix structure is the unique shape of DNA, the molecule that carries genetic information in living organisms. It consists of two twisted strands of nucleotides, or building blocks, that run in opposite directions and are held together by hydrogen bonds. The shape resembles that of a twisted ladder, with the sugar-phosphate backbones forming the sides and the paired bases forming the rungs. The double helix structure was first proposed by James Watson and Francis Crick in 1953, based on X-ray crystallography data collected by Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins.

Key Features of the Double Helix Structure

  • The two strands of DNA are complementary, meaning that the sequence of bases on one strand determines the sequence on the other strand, according to the base-pairing rules (A-T and C-G).
  • The double helix structure enables DNA to store and transmit information in a stable and compact form.
  • The diameter of the helix is approximately 2 nm, and each turn of the helix spans 3.4 nm in length.

Functions of the Double Helix Structure

The double helix structure of DNA plays a critical role in several key functions, including:

  • Replication: During cell division, the two strands of DNA separate and serve as templates for the synthesis of new complementary strands, resulting in two identical copies of the original DNA molecule.
  • Transcription: The DNA sequence is used as a template for the synthesis of messenger RNA (mRNA) molecules, which carry the genetic information to the ribosomes for protein synthesis.
  • Repair: The double helix structure allows for efficient DNA repair mechanisms, which correct any damages or mutations that may occur in the DNA sequence.

Properties of the DNA Double Helix Structure

Several important properties of the DNA double helix structure have been discovered through experimental studies, including:

Property Description
Denaturation The process by which the double helix structure unwinds and the two strands separate, often caused by changes in temperature or pH.
Supercoiling The winding of the double helix upon itself, which allows DNA to be packed tightly into the nucleus of a cell.
Electrophoresis The separation of DNA fragments based on their size and electrical charge.

DNA Discovery

The discovery of DNA dates back to the mid-1800s, when Swiss chemist Friedrich Miescher extracted a substance from white blood cells that he referred to as “nuclein”. It wasn’t until the early 1900s that scientists began to understand the potential significance of Miescher’s discovery, and extensive research into the chemical structure and function of nuclein began.

  • In 1928, British bacteriologist Frederick Griffith conducted a famous experiment with mice that demonstrated the exchange of genetic material between different strains of bacteria, a phenomenon he referred to as “transformation”. This provided early evidence for the existence of DNA as the carrier of genetic information.
  • In 1952, American chemist Alfred Hershey and Canadian biologist Martha Chase conducted experiments with viruses that conclusively demonstrated that DNA, rather than proteins, carried genetic information. This was a major breakthrough in the understanding of DNA’s role in heredity and cellular function.
  • In 1953, British scientists James Watson and Francis Crick discovered the double helix structure of DNA, based on X-ray diffraction images produced by Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins. This landmark discovery provided the first glimpse of how DNA is able to replicate and transmit genetic information through generations.

Since these early discoveries, scientists have continued to explore the intricacies of DNA and its role in biological processes. Advances in technology have made it possible to sequence entire genomes, unlock the secrets of genetic mutations and disorders, and even manipulate DNA for various applications in medicine, agriculture, and other fields.

Overall, the discovery of DNA has revolutionized our understanding of biology and the fundamental mechanisms of life itself. By decoding the language of DNA, we are able to unlock the secrets of life and make incredible strides in everything from curing diseases to improving our food supply.

Discovery Year
Nuclein extraction 1869
“Transformation” experiment 1928
DNA identified as carrier of genetic information 1952
Double helix structure of DNA discovered 1953

Now, with new advancements in DNA technologies and research, we are discovering even more about this complex and fascinating molecule. Who knows what discoveries are yet to come?

Genetic code

The genetic code refers to the set of rules by which the information stored in DNA is converted into functional proteins. The code is composed of the four nucleotide bases that make up DNA: adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G), and thymine (T). A sequence of three consecutive bases, known as a codon, encodes a specific amino acid that will be incorporated into a protein chain.

  • There are 64 possible codons, but only 20 amino acids, so many amino acids have multiple codons that can encode for them.
  • The genetic code is universal, meaning that the same codons encode for the same amino acids in all living organisms.
  • The genetic code is degenerate, meaning that there is redundancy in the code, and multiple codons can encode for the same amino acid. This redundancy allows for some tolerance of mutations in the DNA without affecting protein function.

Transcription and Translation

The genetic code is used in two processes: transcription and translation. Transcription is the process by which a segment of DNA is used as a template to create a messenger RNA (mRNA) molecule. The mRNA molecule then carries the genetic code from the DNA in the nucleus to the ribosome, where translation occurs.

During translation, the mRNA is read in sequential triplets (codons) by tRNA molecules, which are linked to specific amino acids. The ribosome then catalyzes the formation of peptide bonds between adjacent amino acids, resulting in the creation of a protein chain.

Codon table

The codon table is a chart that lists all 64 possible codons and the corresponding amino acid they encode for. The table also designates some codons as stop codons, which signal the end of protein synthesis. In addition, there are three codons known as “start” codons that signal the beginning of protein synthesis.

Codon Amino Acid Codon Amino Acid Codon Amino Acid
AAA lysine AUC isoleucine UGA stop
AAC asparagine AUU isoleucine UGG tryptophan
AAG lysine AUG methionine (start) UUA leucine
AAT asparagine CAU histidine UUC phenylalanine
ACA threonine CAC histidine UUU phenylalanine
ACC threonine CAA glutamine UAG stop
ACG threonine CAG glutamine UCA serine
ACU threonine CCU proline UCC serine
AGA arginine CCC proline UCG serine
AGC serine CCG proline UCU serine
AGG arginine CUA leucine UGC cysteine
AGU serine CUC leucine UGU cysteine
ATA isoleucine CUG leucine UUA leucine
ATC isoleucine CUU leucine UUG leucine
ATT isoleucine GAA glutamic acid UUC phenylalanine
ATG methionine (start) GAC aspartic acid UUG leucine
CAA glutamine GAG glutamic acid UAA stop
CAC histidine GAT aspartic acid UAG stop
CAG glutamine GCA alanine UGC cysteine
CAT histidine GCC alanine UGG tryptophan
CCA proline GCG alanine UGU cysteine
CCC proline GCU alanine
CCG proline GGA glycine
CCU proline GGC glycine
CGA arginine GGG glycine
CGC arginine GGU glycine
CGG arginine GUA valine
CGU arginine GUC valine
CUA leucine GUG valine
CUC leucine GUU valine

The genetic code is a critical component of understanding the function and expression of genes in living organisms. Without the genetic code and its decoding mechanisms, proteins that are required for various cellular functions could not be produced.

DNA Replication

DNA replication is the process of creating a copy of DNA. Before a cell can divide, it needs to replicate its DNA so that both new cells have a complete set of genetic instructions. The process of DNA replication is incredibly complex and involves a number of different enzymes and proteins.

  • The first step in DNA replication is the unwinding of the double helix structure of the DNA molecule. This is done by an enzyme called helicase.
  • Once the DNA has been unwound, an enzyme called primase creates a short RNA primer that signals the start of DNA synthesis.
  • Next, an enzyme called DNA polymerase extends the RNA primer by adding nucleotides to the growing DNA chain.

These three steps are then repeated over and over again, resulting in the creation of two identical copies of the original DNA molecule.

One interesting aspect of DNA replication is the fact that it only works in one direction. Because the two strands of the DNA molecule are oriented in opposite directions, DNA synthesis can only occur in one direction. This creates a leading strand, which is synthesized continuously, and a lagging strand, which is synthesized in short, discontinuous stretches. The lagging strand is then pieced together by another enzyme called DNA ligase.

Enzyme Function
Helicase Unwinds the double helix structure of the DNA molecule
Primase Creates a short RNA primer that signals the start of DNA synthesis
DNA polymerase Adds nucleotides to the growing DNA chain
DNA ligase Pieces together the short, discontinuous stretches of the lagging strand

Overall, DNA replication is an incredibly complex process that is essential for the survival of all living organisms. Without DNA replication, cells would not be able to divide and pass on genetic information to future generations.

DNA Sequencing

In order to understand what a coiled strand of DNA is called, it is important to first understand the process of DNA sequencing. DNA sequencing is the process of figuring out the order of the four chemical building blocks – called “bases” – that make up the DNA molecule. These bases are adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C), and thymine (T). By knowing the sequence of these bases, researchers can better understand how genes work, how variations in genes can cause disease, and how DNA sequences have changed over time.

  • Sanger sequencing
  • Next-generation sequencing
  • Third generation sequencing

There are several different methods of DNA sequencing, including Sanger sequencing, next-generation sequencing, and third-generation sequencing.

Sanger sequencing is a method that was developed in the 1970s and became the standard for DNA sequencing for more than three decades.

Next-generation sequencing, also known as high-throughput sequencing, is a newer method that allows researchers to sequence DNA more quickly and at a lower cost than Sanger sequencing. There are several different types of next-generation sequencing technologies, each with its own strengths and weaknesses.

Third-generation sequencing is a newer type of sequencing that generates longer reads than the previous generations of sequencing technologies. This allows researchers to better understand complex regions of the genome that were previously difficult to sequence.

Method Pros Cons
Sanger Sequencing Accurate Low throughput, High cost
Next-generation Sequencing High throughput, relatively low cost Short reads, sometimes inaccurate
Third-generation Sequencing Long reads, able to analyze complex regions of the genome Higher error rate than other methods, relatively expensive

Each sequencing method has its own advantages and disadvantages, and researchers must choose the method that best fits their specific research needs. However, regardless of the sequencing method used, the information obtained from DNA sequencing is essential for understanding the structure and function of DNA, including the coiled strands that make up the DNA molecule.


The genetic material in our cells is stored in the form of DNA, which is organized into structures called chromosomes. Chromosomes are long strands of DNA molecules that contain tens of thousands of genes, which are the basic units of genetic information. Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes, for a total of 46 chromosomes.

  • Chromosomes are coiled strands of DNA that are tightly packed together
  • Each chromosome contains many genes, which are responsible for the traits that are passed down from parent to child
  • Chromosomes come in pairs, with one chromosome of each pair inherited from each parent

Chromosomes are essential for the process of cell division, which is necessary for growth, repair, and reproduction. Before a cell divides, its chromosomes replicate themselves so that each new cell gets a complete set of genetic information. During cell division, the chromosomes line up in the center of the cell and are pulled apart by spindle fibers. This ensures that each new cell gets a copy of each chromosome.

In addition to their role in cell division, chromosomes play a critical role in genetic disorders. Many genetic diseases are caused by mutations in the genes located on the chromosomes. For example, Down syndrome is caused by an extra copy of chromosome 21, while cystic fibrosis is caused by mutations in the gene located on chromosome 7.

Chromosome Name Number of Genes Disorders Associated
1 4,352 Lung cancer, Alzheimer’s disease
2 3,838 Prostate cancer
3 2,818 Breast cancer, ovarian cancer

Chromosomes also play a critical role in evolutionary biology. By comparing the number and arrangement of chromosomes in different species, scientists can gain insight into the evolution of life on Earth. For example, humans and chimpanzees share a common ancestor, and comparing their chromosomes has helped scientists identify the genetic changes that led to the evolution of these two species.

Genome Mapping

Genome mapping is the process of identifying the location of genes and other DNA sequences on a chromosome. The human genome, which consists of about 3 billion base pairs, was sequenced in 2003. Since then, scientists have been working on mapping the entire human genome, which involves identifying the location of all the genes on each of the 23 pairs of chromosomes.

Genome mapping is essential in understanding the function of genes and how they interact with each other to control the processes that occur within a cell and ultimately, organ and organism. It can help identify the genetic mutations that are responsible for causing various diseases and disorders, and enable the development of personalized drug therapies and treatments.

Types of Genome Mapping

  • Physical mapping: This involves identifying the physical locations of genes on chromosomes using specialized techniques such as fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE).
  • Linkage mapping: This analyzes the inheritance patterns of genes in families to identify the location of disease-causing genes.
  • Sequence-based mapping: This involves the sequencing of DNA to identify the exact locations of genes and other DNA sequences.

Genome Mapping Techniques

There are several techniques that are used in genome mapping, including:

  • Fluorescent In Situ Hybridization (FISH): This technique involves labeling a specific DNA sequence with a fluorescent dye and then hybridizing it to a chromosome to identify its location.
  • Pulsed-Field Gel Electrophoresis (PFGE): This involves separating large fragments of DNA using an electric field and then visualizing them on a gel to identify the location of specific genes.
  • Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) Mapping: This involves identifying genetic variations, called SNPs, that are associated with specific diseases or traits and then mapping their positions on chromosomes.

Applications of Genome Mapping

Genome mapping has many applications, including:

Application Description
Personalized Medicine Genome mapping can identify the genetic mutations that cause diseases and enable personalized drug therapies.
Forensic Science Genome mapping can be used to identify suspects and victims in criminal cases.
Agriculture Genome mapping can be used to select and breed plants and animals with desirable traits.
Evolutionary Biology Genome mapping can be used to trace the evolutionary history of species and identify the genes that control different traits.

What is a coiled strand of DNA called?

1. What is the shape of DNA?
2. What is the structure of DNA called?
3. What are the different forms of DNA?
4. What is the function of DNA?
5. What is the difference between single-stranded and double-stranded DNA?
6. What is the scientific name for double-stranded DNA?
7. How are coiled strands of DNA formed?

Thanks for Reading!

We hope that this article has helped you understand what a coiled strand of DNA is called. Knowing the scientific name for double-stranded DNA is important in understanding the role it plays in genetics and heredity. If you have any more questions or want to learn more about DNA, please visit us again later. Thanks for reading!