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When a cell divides, the new cell (or daughter cell) must receive the same genetic information as the original cell, or the daughter cell will not function correctly. Therefore, before a cell divides, the DNA must be copied, or replicated, faithfully. It must also be transferred to the new cell. This entire process is known as mitosis and will be addressed in Chapter 12. The details of how DNA is replicated will be discussed here.

The beauty of the structure of DNA is that it simplifies its own replication. Due to the base pairing rules, each strand of the helix serves as a template to make a new strand. The copy is the complement of the template, and is identical to the strand originally bound to the template. This type of replication is referred to as semiconservative. Let’s consider the details.

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