These are the molecular machines inside your body that make cell division possible. Animation by Drew Berry at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research. http://wehi.tv
Every day in an adult human roughly 50-70 billion of your cells die. They may be damaged, stressed, or just plain old – this is normal, in fact it’s called programmed cell death.
To make up for that loss, right now, inside your body, billions of cells are dividing, creating new cells.
And cell division, also called mitosis, requires an army of tiny molecular machines.DNA is a good place to start – the double helix molecule that we always talk about.
This is a scientifically accurate depiction of DNA. If you unwind the two strands you can see that each has a sugar phosphate backbone connected to the sequence of nucleic acid base pairs, known by the letters A,T,G, and C.
Now the strands run in opposite directions, which is important when you go to copy DNA. Copying DNA is one of the first steps in cell division. Here the two strands of DNA are being unwound and separated by the tiny blue molecular machine called helicase.
It literally spins as fast as a jet engine! The strand of DNA on the right has its complimentary strand assembled continuously but the other strand is more complicated because it runs in the opposite direction.
So it must be looped out with its compliment strand assembled in reverse, section by section. At the end of this process you have two identical DNA molecules, each one a few centimeters long but just a couple nanometers wide.