Semi-conservative replication

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Semi-conservative replication is the mechanism by which DNA replicates in cells. The parent strand splits in two and uses itself as a template to form a second complementary strand. The exposed bases on the single-stranded DNA complementary base pair to nucleotides. A (Adenine) pairs with T (Thymine) and C (Cytosine) pairs with G (Guanine[1]. Together the template strand and the complementary strand bond together to form a new double strand of DNA. One parent double strand of DNA will thus become two daughter double strands of DNA [2].

The new strand of DNA is made in the 5' to 3' direction as a deoxyribonucleotide is added to the 3' OH end of the chain which is catalysed by DNA polymerase [3].

The term "semi-conservative" refers to the fact that each of daughter double helix contains one conserved strand from the parent DNA, as well as one newly synthesised strand [4].Semi-conservative replication.gif


  1. Alberts et al. Molecular biology of the cell fifth edition 2007. Page 266
  2. Hartl, D and Jones, E (2009). Genetics- Analysis of genes and genomes. 7th ed. Sudbury: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Inc. 192.
  3. Alberts et al. Molecular biology of the cell fifth edition, 2007. Page 268
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