Nucleotides and Nucleic Acids (DNA and RNA)

November 02, 2021

Nucleotides and Nucleic Acids (DNA and RNA)

Nucleotides make up nucleic acids like DNA and RNA.

Nucleotide

Nucleotide - Welcome to Truth

Nucleotides

In order for life to originate, nucleotides must form from the combination of nucleotide bases, phosphates, and sugars.

A nucleotide is composed of 3 parts: five-sided sugar, phosphate group, and a nitrogenous base (nitrogen-containing).

Referring specifically to DNA, the sugar and phosphate group make up the backbone of the DNA double helix, while the bases are located in the middle.

Chirality (Handedness)

Like amino acids, just as you and I have two hands (one right and one left), nucleotide bases, sugars, and other molecules demonstrate similar "handedness."

An object or system is "chiral" if it is distinguishable from its mirror image (and cannot be superimposed upon each other), like the image below (they are opposites).

Chirality - Amino acids and nucleotides - Welcome to Truth

Similarly, DNA and RNA molecules cannot assemble unless their pentose sugars are entirely right- or left-handed.

DNA

A nucleotide is the basic structural unit and building block for DNA.

DNA - Welcome to Truth

These building blocks are hooked together to form a chain of DNA.

There are 4 types of bases in DNA.  They are Adenine (A), Cytosine (C), Guanine (G), and Thymine (T).

A chemical bond between the phosphate group of one nucleotide and the sugar of a neighboring nucleotide holds the backbone together, as you can see in the picture below.

Nucleotide - DNA - Welcome to Truth

 

Chemical bonds (hydrogen bonds) between the bases that are across from one another hold the two strands of the double helix together.

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