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The Replication Machinery

One of the most important concepts to remember, which will come up again in the next chapter, is that polymers of nucleotides can be built only in one direction, in the 5’ to 3’ direction. The phosphate from one nucleotide binds to the 3’ carbon of the sugar in the preceding nucleotide (refer to Figure 5.2). The process can never occur in reverse.
Before the DNA can be replicated, the two strands must dissociate (this is sometimes referred to as unzipping, as the DNA double helix resembles a zipper). The physical point at which the DNA is unzipped is referred to as the replication fork (see Figure 5.4).
The main enzyme involved in replication is called DNA polymerase. It binds to each single stranded DNA chain and builds a complementary strand by reading the template strand. We will now examine some of the details of this process.

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