What are nucleic acids?

Nucleic acids are macromolecules found in all living cells, which are the genes responsible for the storage, transmission, and translation of genetic information. These molecules are named for their acid character and also because they were discovered in the cell nucleus in the mid-nineteenth century.


There are two types of nucleic acid: deoxyribonucleic acid, better known by the acronym DNA, and ribonucleic acid, known as RNA. Nucleic acids are made up of three different components:

Pentoses: they are carbohydrates whose molecule is made up of five carbons. The pentose that makes up DNA is known as deoxyribose, while that of RNA is called ribose (hence the names deoxyribonucleic and ribonucleic).

Nitrogenous bases: they are cyclic compounds that contain nitrogen. The nitrogenous bases are five: adenine, cytosine, guanine, thymine and uracil; and of these, only the first three are found in both DNA and RNA.

Nitrogen-based thymine is found only in DNA, while uracil is a unique base of the

RNA what are nucleic acids

Phosphate: radical derived from the phosphoric acid molecule, a chemical compound responsible for the acid character of nucleic acids.

The union of the pentoses with the nitrogenous bases and the phosphates forms a molecular trio that receives the name of nucleotide.

Both types of nucleic acids are composed of a sequence of nucleotides, which are joined together by phosphate radicals, forming long polynucleotide chains.

Nucleotides contain large amounts of energy, which contributes to the performance of various metabolic processes.

Nucleic acids have a very complex and peculiar spatial structure.

DNA molecules are made up of two polynucleotide chains wrapped around each other, which resembles a large helical ladder. These two chains are joined by hydrogen bonds between certain base pairs.

Nitrogenated: Adenine pairs with thymine, while cytosine pairs with guanine.

RNA molecules, in general, are composed of a single chain, which is wound on itself through the pairing of complementary bases in a mechanism similar to that of DNA, however, in RNA, adenine pairs with uracil .

In some cases, the RNA can also be double-stranded, as is the case with the tobacco mosaic.

In addition to the cell nucleus, DNA is also present in mitochondria and chloroplasts, organelles capable of synthesizing it.

RNA molecules are transcribed from DNA, which can be of three main types: messenger RNA (mRNA), ribosomal RNA (rRNA), and carrier RNA (tRNA). what are nucleic acids

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