Nucleic acids and chromatin
Nucleic acids and chromatin

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Nucleic acids and chromatin

5 DNA damage

5.1 Introduction

The integrity of DNA as a genetic material is of paramount importance to an organism, and a multitude of proteins exist that serve to prevent or reverse damage to the DNA. However, like all biological macromolecules, DNA decomposes spontaneously. The reasons for the ease of decomposition of DNA are intimately linked to the chemical structures of the constituent bases and phosphodiester-linked sugars. The limited stability of DNA may be integral to the molecular basis of evolution. If DNA were extremely stable and its replication perfect, the sequence of bases within a gene would be passed on to each succeeding generation with no alterations. But small chemical changes to DNA that result in alterations to genes do occur, resulting in the variations in protein structure and function that underlie evolution. In this section, we will briefly examine the features of DNA that make it susceptible to damaging agents from both cellular activities and the environment.


Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to university level study, find out more about the types of qualifications we offer, including our entry level Access courses and Certificates.

Not ready for University study then browse over 900 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus