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Chemistry > Biomolecule > Nucleic Acids
Biomolecule

Nucleic Acids

Have you noticed how much you look like your parents? This is because our genes are passed down to future generations. This is done through nucleic acid, the vehicles of genetic inheritance of our cells. Let us learn a bit more about these fascinating biomolecules.

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Nucleic Acid

It can be said that nucleic acid is one of the most important biopolymers. They are present in all organisms. Think of them as the mother chip of your body. This is where your genetic information is encoded and recorded. The function of nucleic acid is to express this information outside the cell to the future generation. So it felicitates the transfer of genetic information from one generation to the next and so onwards.

Now nucleic acids are big and complex molecules. They have a linear binding between nucleotides. They are double-stranded and have highly complex sequencing.

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Biomolecule cheat sheet

Nomenclature

The initial discovery of nucleic acid was through their presence in the nucleus of eukaryotic cells. Hence the name contains a reference to the nucleus. Later they were discovered to contain phosphate group like in phosphoric acid. And the name was now nucleic acids. The name is also a version of polynucleotide since the structure is linear chains of nucleotides.

Types of Nucleic Acids

Now there are two main types of nucleic acids, namely Deoxyribonucleic Acid and Ribonucleic Acid. And although the name sounds complicated you will be surprised to know you are already aware of them both. They are nothing but DNA and RNA. Let us study these both in a little more detail.

nucleic acid

Deoxyribonucleic Acid

Better known as DNA this is the first type of nucleic acid. You are probably aware of DNA and know that every humans DNA is unique to themselves. But how does this happen and what exactly is DNA.

There are approximately 200 types of cells in our bodies like white blood cells, neurons (brain cells), cardiac muscle cells etc. But how do these cells know their particular function? Well, their chemical compositions within their cells differ. The cells get their instructions from this biopolymer that is Deoxyribonucleic Acid.

This information is the DNA code. This code forms due to the sequencing of the nucleotides in the polymer chain. The DNA has very long chains of nucleotides in their molecules and hence there are billions upon billions of sequences possible. This is the reason all of our DNA sequences are unique only to us.

Did you know that 99.9% of DNA is the same in all us humans? Only 0.01% of our DNA coding is special and different for every human. This is what makes every individual unique.

Ribonucleic Acid

RNA is our second type of nucleic acid. Although it does not get as much importance as DNA, Ribonucleic Acid is absolutely essential for our survival. RNA is actually the blueprint of our DNAs. While the DNA is always inside the nucleus of our cells, the RNA travels outside the nucleus to perform its functions. There are actually three types of Ribonucleic Acids, namely:

  • Ribosomal RNA: Is the main part of the ribosome, which is where the protein maker of our bodies.
  • Messenger RNA: This RNA carries the message outside from the nucleus. It carries the information about what type of protein cells are to be manufactured.
  • Transfer RNA: It brings the amino acid to the ribosome for protein production.

Solved Example for You

Q: The relationship between the nucleotide triplets and the amino acids is:

  1. Translation
  2. Replication
  3. Genetic code
  4. All of the above

Sol: The correct answer is “C”. The relation between nucleotides and amino acids is genetic code. This determines the sequence of amino acids in the proteins.

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