NCERT Class 12 Books Biology Chapter 6- Molecular Basis of Inheritance

Safalta Expert Published by: Noor Fatima Updated Thu, 30 Jun 2022 02:11 PM IST

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MOLECULAR BASIS OF INHERITANCE

In the previous chapter, you have learnt the inheritance patterns and the genetic basis of such patterns. At the time of Mendel, the nature of those ‘factors’ regulating the pattern of inheritance was not clear. Over the next hundred years, the nature of the putative genetic material was investigated culminating in the realisation that DNA – deoxyribonucleic acid – is the genetic material, at least for the majority of organisms. In class XI you have learnt that nucleic acids are polymers of nucleotides.

Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and ribonucleic acid (RNA) are the two types of nucleic acids found in living systems. DNA acts as the genetic material in most of the organisms. RNA though it also acts as a genetic material in some viruses, mostly functions as a messenger. RNA has additional roles as well. It functions as adapter, structural, and in some cases as a catalytic molecule. In Class XI you have already learnt the structures of nucleotides and the way these monomer units are linked to form nucleic acid polymers. In this chapter we are going to discuss the structure of DNA, its replication, the process of making RNA from DNA (transcription), the genetic code that determines the sequences of amino acids in proteins, the process of protein synthesis (translation) and elementary basis of their regulation. The determination of complete nucleotide sequence of human genome during last decade has set in a new era of genomics. In the last section, the essentials of human genome sequencing and its consequences will also be discussed.

Let us begin our discussion by first understanding the structure of the most interesting molecule in the living system, that is, the DNA. In subsequent sections, we will understand that why it is the most abundant genetic material, and what its relationship is with RNA. 


6.1 THE DNA

DNA is a long polymer of deoxyribonucleotides. The length of DNA is usually defined as number of nucleotides (or a pair of nucleotide referred to as base pairs) present in it. This also is the characteristic of an organism. For example, a bacteriophage known as φ ×174 has 5386 nucleotides, Bacteriophage lambda has 48502 base pairs (bp), Escherichia coli has 4.6 × 106 bp, and haploid content of human DNA is 3.3 × 109 bp. Let us discuss the structure of such a long polymer.

6.1.1 Structure of Polynucleotide Chain

Let us recapitulate the chemical structure of a polynucleotide chain (DNA or RNA). A nucleotide has three components – a nitrogenous base, a pentose sugar (ribose in case of RNA, and deoxyribose for DNA), and a phosphate group. There are two types of nitrogenous bases – Purines (Adenine and Guanine), and Pyrimidines (Cytosine, Uracil and Thymine). Cytosine is common for both DNA and RNA and Thymine is present in DNA. Uracil is present in RNA at the place of Thymine. A nitrogenous base is linked to the OH of 1' C pentose sugar through a N-glycosidic linkage to form a nucleoside, such as adenosine or deoxyadenosine, guanosine or deoxyguanosine, cytidine or deoxycytidine and uridine or deoxythymidine. When a phosphate group is linked to OH of 5' C of a nucleoside through phosphoester linkage, a corresponding nucleotide (or deoxynucleotide depending upon the type of sugar present) is formed. Two nucleotides are linked through 3'-5' phosphodiester linkage to form a dinucleotide. More nucleotides can be joined in such a manner to form a polynucleotide chain. A polymer thus formed has at one end a free phosphate moiety at 5' -end of sugar, which is referred to as 5’-end of polynucleotide chain. Similarly, at the other end of the polymer the sugar has a free OH of 3'C group which is referred to as 3' -end of the polynucleotide chain. The backbone of a polynucleotide chain is formed due to sugar and phosphates. The nitrogenous bases linked to sugar moiety project from the backbone (Figure 6.1).

In RNA, every nucleotide residue has an additional –OH group present at 2' -position in the ribose. Also, in RNA the uracil is found at the place of thymine (5-methyl uracil, another chemical name for thymine).

DNA as an acidic substance present in nucleus was first identified by Friedrich Meischer in 1869. He named it as ‘Nuclein’. However, due to technical limitation in isolating such a long polymer intact, the elucidation of structure of DNA remained elusive for a very long period of time. It was only in 1953 that James Watson and Francis Crick, based on the X-ray diffraction data produced by Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin, proposed a very simple but famous Double Helix model for the structure of DNA. One of the hallmarks of their proposition was base pairing between the two strands of polynucleotide chains. However, this proposition was also based on the observation of Erwin Chargaff that for a double stranded DNA, the ratios between Adenine and Thymine and Guanine and Cytosine are constant and equals one. 

The base pairing confers a very unique property to the polynucleotide chains. They are said to be complementary to each other, and therefore if the sequence of bases in one strand is known then the sequence in other strand can be predicted. Also, if each strand from a DNA (let us call it as a parental DNA) acts as a template for synthesis of a new strand, the two double stranded DNA (let us call them as daughter DNA) thus, produced would be identical to the parental DNA molecule. Because of this, the genetic implications of the structure of DNA became very clear.

The salient features of the Double-helix structure of DNA are as follows:

(i) It is made of two polynucleotide chains, where the backbone is constituted by sugar-phosphate, and the bases project inside.

(ii) The two chains have anti-parallel polarity. It means, if one chain has the polarity 5'à3', the other has 3'à5'.

(iii) The bases in two strands are paired through hydrogen bond (H-bonds) forming base pairs (bp). Adenine forms two hydrogen bonds with Thymine from opposite strand and vice-versa. Similarly, Guanine is bonded with Cytosine with three H-bonds. As a result, always a purine comes opposite to a pyrimidine. This generates approximately uniform distance between the two strands of the helix (Figure 6.2).

(iv) The two chains are coiled in a right-handed fashion. The pitch of the helix is 3.4 nm (a nanometre is one billionth of a metre, that is 10-9 m) and there are roughly 10 bp in each turn. Consequently, the distance between a bp in a helix is approximately 0.34 nm.

(v) The plane of one base pair stacks over the other in double helix.

This, in addition to H-bonds, confers stability of the helical structure (Figure 6.3).

Compare the structure of purines and pyrimidines. Can you find out why the distance between two polynucleotide chains in DNA remains almost constant?

The proposition of a double helix structure for DNA and its simplicity in explaining the genetic implication became revolutionary. Very soon, Francis Crick proposed the Central dogma in molecular biology, which states that the genetic information flows from DNA-RNA-Protein.

In some viruses the flow of information is in reverse direction, that is, from RNA to DNA.

Can you suggest a simple name to the process?

You can download the complete book from the link given below. 

NCERT Class 12 Books Biology Chapter 6- Molecular Basis of Inheritance- PDF Download

Chapter 6: Molecular Basis of Inheritance

अध्याय 5: वंशागति तथा विविधता के सिद्धांत

Where can you download NCERT Class 12 Books Biology Chapter 6 PDF?

Candidates can download NCERT Class 12 Books Biology Chapter 6- Molecular Basis of Inheritance PDF for free on our page. Links are given below.

Chapter 6: Molecular Basis of Inheritance

अध्याय 5: वंशागति तथा विविधता के सिद्धांत

Why is NCERT Books Class 12 Biology the best study material?

The book can also help in clarifying doubts. Other benefits of studying from the NCERT Books Class 12 Biology are-
  • Students gain profound knowledge about Biology through the NCERT Books Class 12 Biology
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Why is NCERT Books Class 12 Biology so recommended for board exams?

Almost all the questions that appear in board exams are from NCERT Books Class 12 Science. Moreover, a team of professional teachers drafts these books, which become a reliable source of study for students.
 

Are CBSE Books for Class 12 Biology important from an examination perspective?

The Chapter 6 in CBSE Books for Class 12 Biology are vital for board exams and higher classes. Students should read the Unit given in the CBSE books for Class 12 Science. These stories and practice questions can help gain excellent marks.

To get outstanding marks, we provide mock test papers that can help gear-up your preparations for exams. Additionally, you can also download e-books to get yourself prepared even in a better way.
 

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