Nucleic acids are responsible for the storage, transmission, and expression of genetic information in organisms.
The two main types of nucleic acids are deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and ribonucleic acid (RNA). DNA is the genetic material found in all living organisms, ranging from single-celled bacteria to multicellular mammals. It is found in the nucleus of eukaryotes and in the chloroplasts and mitochondria. In prokaryotes, the DNA is not enclosed in a membranous envelope, but rather free-floating within the cytoplasm.
The entire genetic content of a cell is known as its genome and the study of genomes is genomics. In eukaryotic cells, but not in prokaryotes, DNA forms a complex with histone proteins to form chromatin, the substance of eukaryotic chromosomes. A chromosome may contain tens of thousands of genes. Many genes contain the information to make protein products; other genes code for RNA products. DNA controls all of the cellular activities by turning the genes “on” or “off. ”
The other type of nucleic acid, RNA, is mostly involved in protein synthesis. In eukaryotes, the DNA molecules never leave the nucleus but instead use an intermediary to communicate with the rest of the cell. This intermediary is the messenger RNA (mRNA). Other types of RNA—like rRNA, tRNA, and microRNA—are involved in protein synthesis and its regulation.
DNA and RNA are made up of monomers known as nucleotides. The nucleotides combine with each other to form a polynucleotide, DNA or RNA. Each nucleotide is made up of three components: a nitrogenous base, a pentose (five-carbon) sugar, and a phosphate group. Each nitrogenous base in a nucleotide is attached to a sugar molecule, which is attached to one or more phosphate groups.
• The two main types of nucleic acids are DNA and RNA.
• Both DNA and RNA are made from nucleotides, each containing a five-carbon sugar backbone, a phosphate group, and a nitrogen base.
• DNA provides the code for the cell ‘s activities, while RNA converts that code into proteins to carry out cellular functions.
• The sequence of nitrogen bases (A, T, C, G) in DNA is what forms an organism’s traits.
• The nitrogen bases A and T (or U in RNA) always go together and C and G always go together, forming the 5′-3′ phosphodiester linkage found in the nucleic acid molecules.
DNA: Deoxyribonucleic acid, a self-replicating material which is present in nearly all living organisms as the main constituent of chromosomes. It is the carrier of genetic information.
RNA: Ribonucleic acid, a nucleic acid present in all living cells. Its principal role is to act as a messenger carrying instructions from DNA for controlling the synthesis of proteins.
nucleotide: the monomer comprising DNA or RNA molecules; consists of a nitrogenous heterocyclic base that can be a purine or pyrimidine, a five-carbon pentose sugar, and a phosphate group
genome: the cell’s complete genetic information packaged as a double-stranded DNA molecule
monomer: A relatively small molecule which can be covalently bonded to other monomers to form a polymer.