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Antisense strand of DNA

Mick Jones mjones at rpms.ac.uk
Thu Dec 14 06:55:28 EST 1995


This is always a problem for new students to molecular biology.  As far as I am aware 
(and poke my eye out with a pointed stick if I'm wrong) the following is a fair 
interpretation of the concepts.

DNA is double stranded, and the DNA strand that is identical to the transcribed RNA 
(except for Us for Ts) is called the SENSE strand.  The complementary strand, which acts 
as the template for transcribing the RNA is called the ANTISENSE strand.

In the good old days, the DNA strand which acts as the template for producing the RNA 
(antisense above) was called the CODING strand, and thus the DNA strand identical to RNA 
was called the NONCODING strand (confusing yes ?).

I definitely prefer the SENSE ANTISENSE definitions.  The problem is DNA is double 
stranded and should be treated as such.  People should always view DNA in this context.  
This way you can avoid the problems of designing PCR primers that direct synthesis away 
from each other instead of towards. Amazing enough we still get students and post-docs 
who fail to design their PCR primers correctly.  We have even had one who used their own 
version of base pairing, A pairs with G and C with T.


Mick Jones                      Tel: 081-740-3328 (+44-81-740-3328)
Department of Virology          FAX: 081-743-8331 (+44-81-743-8331)
RPMS,  Du Cane Road              Email: mjones at rpms.ac.uk 
London,  W12 0NN,  UK          URL: http://www.rpms.ac.uk/virology/virolhome.html
"Smoke me a kipper, I'll be back for breakfast."   Ace Rimmer (Red Dwarf)
"Crackin' toast, Gromit."    Wallace (The Wrong Trousers)

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