Summarizing DNA Repair


DNA polymerase can make mistakes while adding nucleotides. It edits the DNA by proofreading every newly added base. Incorrect bases are removed and replaced by the correct base, and then a new base is added. Most mistakes are corrected during replication, although when this does not happen, the mismatch repair mechanism is employed. Mismatch repair enzymes recognize the wrongly incorporated base and excise it from the DNA, replacing it with the correct base. In yet another type of repair, nucleotide excision repair, the incorrect base is removed along with a few bases on the 5′ and 3′ end, and these are replaced by copying the template with the help of DNA polymerase. The ends of the newly synthesized fragment are attached to the rest of the DNA using DNA ligase, which creates a phosphodiester bond.

Most mistakes are corrected, and if they are not, they may result in a mutation defined as a permanent change in the DNA sequence. Mutations can be of many types, such as substitution, deletion, insertion, and translocation. Mutations in repair genes may lead to serious consequences such as cancer. Mutations can be induced or may occur spontaneously.


induced mutation

mutation that results from exposure to chemicals or environmental agents


variation in the nucleotide sequence of a genome

mismatch repair

type of repair mechanism in which mismatched bases are removed after replication

nucleotide excision repair

type of DNA repair mechanism in which the wrong base, along with a few nucleotides upstream or downstream, are removed


function of DNA pol in which it reads the newly added base before adding the next one

point mutation

mutation that affects a single base

silent mutation

mutation that is not expressed

spontaneous mutation

mutation that takes place in the cells as a result of chemical reactions taking place naturally without exposure to any external agent

transition substitution

when a purine is replaced with a purine or a pyrimidine is replaced with another pyrimidine

transversion substitution

when a purine is replaced by a pyrimidine or a pyrimidine is replaced by a purine

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