What is a Double Helix?
We often discuss the term double helix while studying genetic engineering and biology. The dna double helix is the demonstration of the structure of one molecule of DNA (Deoxyribonucleic).
To understand this dna helix structure better, assume that a DNA model consists of two single strands. These two single strands, when wind or coiled around each other, adopt the shape of a twisted ladder, which we call the double helix.
Why is DNA a Double Helix?
It's mainly the dna double helix shape of a DNA model that is responsible for DNA replication, passing of traits from generation to generation, preservation of good qualities in offspring, and formation of new and better combinations.
During the process of DNA replication, both the strands get unwinded and act as a template for the formation of a new replicating strand. The specific base pairing present at each strand makes it possible to copy each detail faithfully, without giving rise to genetic abnormalities.
You might be surprised to know but the double helix structure of DNA also determines the protein synthesis and proper functioning of enzymes in our bodies.
To be more specific, the nitrogenous bases present between the double helix are hydrophobic while the sugar and phosphate backbone is hydrophilic. When both the strands are coiled together, it keeps the inner bases from getting in contact with water, present in the cytoplasm.
What is a Double Helix Shape?
Generally speaking, the dna double helix shape shows the coiling of two linear strands around each other. Think of each strand as a single dna helix. So, when both the helix are intertwined in three dimensions, they attain the shape of a twisted ladder.
What is the Difference Between a Helix and a Double Helix?
While speaking of a double helix, we assume two strands intertwined or coiled around each other to look like a twisted staircase. On the other hand, we don't know what is a helix. A single helix consists of a single strand that is coiled around itself. Such types of the single helix are seen while reading the structure of RNA.
However, both the RNA and DNA models are made of the same types of nucleotides - the same three basic components, with a few minor changes. The RNA strands sometimes attain the shape of a double dna helix, like that of DNA, but it happens only for a single instant.
What is Meant by the Double Helix Structure of DNA?
The DNA molecule comprises three basic components including nitrogenous bases, deoxyribose Sugar, and phosphate groups. The backbone of the strand is made up of sugars and phosphate groups while the nitrogenous bases of one strand make hydrogen bonds with the nitrogenous bases of other strands.
Thus, in this way, the two strands stay twisted around each other, in the form of a double helix, without getting unwinded, due to the presence of these bonds between nitrogen bases. Remember that the bond formation between bases is a specific thing - one type of base can make bonds with only a specific type of base like guanine makes three hydrogen bonds with cytosine and adenine forms two hydrogen bonds with thymine.
The two strands, coiled together in the form of a dna double helix are antiparallel which imparts further strength to the molecule to retain its shape. From anti-parallel,
Furthermore, this antiparallel orientation collaborates further in the successful interactions between nucleic acids and the replication process of DNA. From anti-parallel, we mean that one helix runs in a direction opposite to that of another. As a result, the 5' carbon end of a strand faces the 3' carbon end of another one.
Also, due to this antiparallel orientation, if the sequence of bases in one strand runs as AATTGGCC, the sequence of bases in the second strand becomes TTAACCGG.
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