DNA polymerase can make mistakes while adding nucleotides. It edits the DNA by proofreading every newly added base. Incorrect bases are removed and replaced by the correct base, and then DNA replication continues. Most mistakes are corrected during replication, although when this does not happen, repair mechanisms are employed that remove damaged or incorrectly inserted bases and replace them.
Most mistakes are corrected; if they are not, they may result in a mutation—defined as a permanent change in the DNA sequence. Mutations in repair genes may lead to serious consequences like cancer.
Unless otherwise noted, images on this page are licensed under CC-BY 4.0 by OpenStax.
OpenStax, Concepts of Biology. OpenStax CNX. May 18, 2016 http://cnx.org/contents/s8Hh0oOc@9.10:2ousESf0@5/DNA-Replication