Glossary of terms used in COT reports beginning with D

Last updated: 27 November 2020

(DNA) Deletion: A chromosomal aberration in which a proportion of the chromosome is lost. Deletions may range in size from a single nucleotide (qv) to an entire chromosome. Such deletions may be harmless, may result in disease, or may in rare cases be beneficial.

DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid): The carrier of genetic information for all living organisms except the group of RNA viruses. Each of the 46 chromosomes in normal human cells consists of 2 strands of DNA containing up to 100,000 nucleotides, specific sequences of which make up genes (qv). DNA itself is composed of two interwound chains of linked nucleotides (qv).

DNA damage: Injuries to DNA that introduce deviations from its normal, chemical structure and which may, if left unrepaired, result in a mutation or a block of DNA replication. These deviations can occur naturally or may be caused by environmental physical or chemical agents.

DNA methylation: A reversible biochemical modification of DNA more or less universally present in organisms from bacteria to humans. Methyl groups can be enzymatically added to or removed from cytosine (C). It is associated with silencing of DNA sequences.

DNA probe: A piece of single-stranded DNA, typically labelled so that it can be detected (for example, a radioactive or fluorescent label can be used), which can single out and bind with (and only with) another specific piece of DNA. DNA probes can be used to determine which sequences are present in a given length of DNA or which genes are present in a sample of DNA.

DNA repair: Processes that repair potentially damaging changes in DNA, including those induced by chemical mutagens (see mutagen.) Through the action of enzymes, individual DNA bases may be replaced, or part of a strand of DNA may be replaced, using its opposite, paired strand as a template. These processes may themselves be prone to error and result in potentially deleterious changes.

DNA repair genes: Genes which code for proteins that correct damage in DNA sequences. When these genes are altered, mutations may be able to accumulate in the genome, ultimately resulting in disease.

DNA damage response (DDR): Cells respond to the perception of DNA damage by arresting cell-cycle progression and attempting repair: collectively these actions are known as the DNA-damage response (DDR).

DNA sequencing: process by which the sequence of nucleotides along a strand of DNA is determined. Where either the whole genome or the exome (the region which encodes proteins) is sequenced this is referred to as whole genome/exome sequencing (WGS/WES).

Dominant lethal assay: See Dominant Lethal mutation.

Dominant lethal mutation: A dominant mutation that causes death of an early embryo.

Dopaminergic: Releasing or involving dopamine as a neurotransmitter.

Dose: Total amount of a substance administered to, taken or absorbed by an organism.

Dose-response relationship: how an effect caused by a chemical changes as the dose of the chemical changes, after a certain exposure time.