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Nucleic Acid and DNA Sequencing

This free online course will help you to master the basic concepts and structure of nucleic acid and DNA sequencing.

Publisher: NPTEL
Scientific studies in the early 21st century had established that nucleic acid was composed of nucleotides, about which you will learn in this free online course. You will also learn about the types of nucleic acids which will include both the Maxam-Gilbert method and the Sanger sequencing method of determining the sequence of bases in a DNA, thus getting an opportunity to be part of a field of science which is gaining importance and momentum.
Nucleic Acid and DNA Sequencing
  • Duration

    3-4 Hours
  • Students

  • Accreditation






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Nucleic acids are commonly referred to as the building blocks of DNA and RNA. In the early 21st century, chemical degradation studies were conducted on material extracted from cell nuclei. These studies helped to establish that the high molecular-weight nucleic acid was actually composed of individual acid units, termed nucleotides. You will be introduced to nucleic acids and the different types of nucleic acids in this course. You will learn about catalytic antibodies and how can they be designed to catalyse different organic reactions, as the course explains catalytic residues, transition state analogue approach, sigmatropic reactions and disfavored reactions. Understanding these concepts is critical in the field of synthetic biology, where, in this course, you will be learning specifically about nucleic acids. Each repeating unit in a nucleic acid polymer comprises of three units linked together – a phosphate group, a sugar, and one of the four bases. You will get an insight into the composition of DNA and its double helix structure as you learn about the contributions of Chargaff, Wilkin, Franklin, Watson and Crick.


In all forms of life, DNA is a polymer made up of nucleotides containing four major types of nitrogenous bases: adenine, thymine, guanine, and cytosine. Though DNA was first isolated from biological material in 1869, its participation in the transfer of genetic information was recognized during the 1940s. Since then, thousands of physical, chemical, and biological investigations have been focused on DNA. The double helix structure, as described by Watson and Crick, is now recognized as a significant structural form of native DNA. The course offers detailed discussions on the double helix structure of DNA. You will also learn about hyperchromic effects, the cooperative process, and DNA sequencing. Hyperchromic effect or hyperchromicity is the increase of absorbance of a material. Hyperchromicity of DNA occurs when the DNA duplex is denatured. When the two single DNA strands are separated, either by heat, by addition of denaturant or by increasing the pH level, the UV absorption increases. Also, the unwinding of DNA involves cooperativity; that is, portions of DNA must unwind in order for it to carry out replication, transcription and recombination.


In the second module, you will learn about DNA sequencing. DNA sequencing is the process of determining the sequence of nucleotides within a DNA molecule. This sequence is unique to each organism and determining the sequence helps scientists to compare the DNA of different organisms. Such comparisons can help show how the organisms are related. The course has detailed discussions on the Maxam-Gilbert method of DNA sequencing and Sanger's sequencing technique. It also provides examples and solved problems to clarify the techniques. You will learn about the chemical cleavage method, limitations of Sanger's chain termination sequencing and pyrosequencing, which are essential topics to master if you wish to gain knowledge in the expanding field of biological chemistry and synthetic biology. These have growing research scope and clinical applications such as designing new diagnostic methods, building molecularly engineered tissues and developing new drugs and vaccines. This field provides scientists and researchers with an arsenal of tools to understand the molecular workings and chemistry of cells in order to make breakthroughs in medicine and diagnostics. You can get an idea of the extensive learning that this free online course offers, if you enrol in it right away!

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