Nucleic acid


noun, plural: nucleic acids

Any of the group of complex compounds consisting of linear chains of monomeric nucleotides whereby each monomeric unit is composed of phosphoric acid, sugar and nitrogenous base, and involved in the preservation, replication, and expression of hereditary information in every living cell.


The chains of nucleotides in a nucleic acid are linked by 3', 5' phosphodiester linkages.

Nucleic acids may be in the form of DNA or RNA molecules containing the genetic information important for all cellular functions and heredity.

Word origin: nucleic (of the nucleus) + acid.
Related phrases: deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), ribonucleic acid (RNA).

See also: nucleotide, nitrogenous base.

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