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The 4 Major Organic Compounds in us!

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Nucleic Acids

     The foundation of life...the history of life...the code to work the cells...the miracle that defines us all...DNA! DNA is our hereditary material and, like Francis Crick (one of the two people credited with finding the structure if DNA) commented, "It never dies". It has been here since the beginning of life and will continue to exist as long as life does.
     DNA represents another major organic group: the nucleic acids. Nucleic acids are responsible for transporting hereditary information and for determining  what proteins a cell makes. There are two different types of nucleic acids. They are ribosenucleicacid (RNA) and deoxyribosenucleic acid(DNA). The names are almost similar except DNA has deoxy in front of it. This is because DNA has one less hydroxyl (OH-) group than RNA. DNA is double stranded whereas RNA is single stranded. Lastly, DNA has the base thymine whereas RNA has the base uracil.
     The subunit of a nucleic acid is the nucleotide. Nucleotides have three main parts to them. On the outside is a phosphate group. The phosphate is what makes the nucleic acid acidic. In the middle would be a five-carbon sugar (ribose in RNA and deoxyribose in DNA). On the inside of the nucleic acid is the nitrogenous base. The nucleotides are linked together by phosphodiester linkages (a sugar of one nucleotide joins with a phosphate of another).


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Model of what DNA looks like. Letters represent the bases. Adenine, Thymine, Guanine, and Cytosine.

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The nucleotide: On far left is the phosphate followed by the sugar. The base is shown on top.



 For the original paper published by James Watson and Francis Crick on the structure of DNA, go to: