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Simple Nucleic Acid Question

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Simple Nucleic Acid Question

Postby IzumiBiology18 » Mon Feb 18, 2008 1:01 am

Did I word this right in my blog?

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and nucleic acids are DNA and RNA. Nucleic acids make nucleotides which serve as the blueprint for proteins and, through the action of proteins, serve as the blueprint for all cellular activities.

If so, I am a bit confused...amino acids serve as the building blocks of proteins as well as nucleotides? And is DNA and RNA considered proteins? If so, then maybe this makes sense.

Please help and try not to use big terms, thanks. ^-^

~Danielle
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Re: Simple Nucleic Acid Question

Postby blcr11 » Mon Feb 18, 2008 7:25 am

That kind of depends on what you mean by “building blocks.” Some amino acids—which definitely are the direct building blocks of peptides and proteins—also enter nucleic acid metabolism, and are used to synthesize the purines and pyrimidines that go into RNA and DNA. Most people (meaning at least me, I suppose) don’t consider amino acids to be building nucleic acids in the same sense that they are used to build proteins. Some of the proteins made from amino acids are enzymes that direct the replication and transcription of nucleic acids, but I would consider that to be an indirect relationship between amino acids and nucleic acids. Maybe it would be helpful to recite Crick’s so-called Central Dogma, “DNA makes RNA makes Protein,” which encapsulates the flow of information in a cell. But then you can also say the Protein makes even more DNA which goes on to make more RNA…etc.

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins while nucleic acids are the building blocks of genes in the form of DNA. A special copy of the information held in the DNA sequence is “read out” in the form of mRNA (a process called transcription) which travels to the ribosomes where other proteins/enzymes translate the message into more protein.

That is a really bare-bones description of the essential relationship between amino acids, proteins, nucleic acids and DNA/RNA. I personally prefer the conciseness of the Central Dogma. To make it more complete, I guess you need the process of replication, where DNA makes copies of itself using—you guessed it—more proteins/enzymes. And this certainly doesn’t begin to cover things like regulation, splicing, or viruses.
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