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Nucleic Acid

​Nucleic Acids

updated: May 21, 2022

Definition

Nucleic acids are large biomolecules that play essential roles in all cells and viruses. A major function of nucleic acids involves the storage and expression of genomic information. Deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, encodes the information cells need to make proteins. A related type of nucleic acid, called ribonucleic acid (RNA), comes in different molecular forms that play multiple cellular roles, including protein synthesis. 

 nucleic-acid


Narration

Believe it or not, there are many songs devoted to nucleic acids. Something about them inspires art. I won’t sing any of them, but I did first learn about nucleic acids through a song in chemistry class.   Nucleic acids are made of nitrogen-containing bases, phosphate groups, and sugar molecules. Each type of nucleic acid has a distinctive structure and plays a different role in our cells. Researchers who first explored molecules inside the nucleus of cells found a peculiar compound that was not a protein or a lipid or a carbohydrate. It was new.  The discovery of this molecule — nuclein, which upon further understanding became nucleic acid — set in motion the eventual discovery of DNA.

Sarah A. Bates
Sarah A. Bates, M.S.

Chief

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