Deoxyribonucleic acid

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Definition

noun, plural: deoxyribonucleic acids

A double-stranded nucleic acid that contains the genetic information for cell growth, division, and function


Supplement

A nucleic acid refers to any of the group of complex compounds consisting of linear chains of monomeric nucleotides. Each nucleotide is composed of phosphoric acid, sugar and nitrogenous base. Nucleic acids may be in the form of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) or ribonucleic acid (RNA).

Deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, is a double-stranded nucleic acid containing the genetic information of a living thing. It is essential for the cell growth, division, and function of an organism.

Structure: DNA is composed of two strands that twist together to form a helix. Each strand consists of alternating phosphate (PO4) and pentose sugar (2-deoxyribose), and attached on the sugar is a nitrogenous base, which can be adenine, thymine, guanine, or cytosine. In DNA, these bases pair; adenine pairs with thymine and guanine with cytosine. Hence, DNA is a ladder-like helical structure.

Location: DNA is found in the cytoplasm of prokaryotic cells, and chiefly in the nucleus of eukaryotic cells. A small fraction of total DNA is present in mitochondria and chloroplasts.

Function: DNA is a long polymer of nucleotides to code for the sequence of amino acid during protein synthesis. DNA is said to carry the genetic ‘blueprint’ since it contains the instructions or information (called genes) needed to construct cellular components like proteins and RNA molecules.


Abbreviation/Acronym:

  • DNA

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