A nucleotide is the basic building block of nucleic acids. RNA and DNA are polymers made of long chains of nucleotides. A nucleotide consists of a sugar molecule (either ribose in RNA or deoxyribose in DNA) attached to a phosphate group and a nitrogen-containing base. The bases used in DNA are adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G), and thymine (T). In RNA, the base uracil (U) takes the place of thymine.
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Nucleotides are the units and the chemicals that are strung together to make nucleic acids, most notably RNA and DNA. And both of those are long chains of repeating nucleotides. There's an A, C, G, and T in DNA, and in RNA there's the same three nucleotides as DNA, and then the T is replaced with a uracil. The nucleotide is the basic building block of these molecules, and is essentially are assembled by the cell one at a time and then strung together by the process of either replication, in the form of DNA, or what we call transcription when you're making RNA.
Lawrence C. Brody, Ph.D.
Chief & Senior Investigator, Genome Technology Branch; Head, Molecular Pathogenesis Section
Dr. Brody investigates the genetics of breast cancer and neural tube defects. As chief of the NHGRI Genome Technology Branch's Molecular Pathogenesis section, he is interested in studying genetic mutations that lead to perturbations in normal metabolic pathways and cause disorders such as cancer and birth defects. His laboratory investigates mutations in two breast cancer-linked genes, breast cancer gene 1 (BRCA1) and breast cancer gene 2 (BRCA2). Dr. Brody's laboratory was among the first to report that women carrying BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations have a higher risk of developing both breast and ovarian cancer than women without such mutations.