Nucleic acid is the overall name for both DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) and RNA (Ribonucleic acid). It is a biomolecule found in all living organism that stores genetic information that is transferred from parents to their offspring from one generation to another. Nucleic acid is made up of monomers called nucleotides.
Composition of nucleotides
Nucleotides are made up of three major components:
- 5- Carbon sugar
- Phosphate functional group.
- Nitrogenous bases
This includes the 5 – carbon (pentose) sugar such as deoxyribose (found in DNA) and ribose (found in RNA).
Phosphate functional group
The phosphate group connects the pentose sugar found in one nucleotide to the sugar in another nucleotide.
These are aromatic nitrogen containing molecular components of the nucleic acid that serves as proton acceptor. The nitrogenous bases in nucleic acid include:
- Purine bases
- Pyrimidine bases
Purine bases include adenine and guanine while the pyrimidine bases include cytosine, thymine (in DNA only) and uracil (in RNA only).
Differences between the DNA and RNA
|Deoxyribose nucleic acid||Ribose nucleic acid|
|Structurally contains deoxyribose sugar||Structurally contains ribose sugar|
|It has double helix structure||It does not have double helix structure|
|It is thermo-stable||It is thermo-labile|
All eukaryotes and most prokaryotes have DNA as their main genetic material. However, some retrovirus such as Human immunodeficiency virus and flavivirus such Zika virus have RNA as their genetic material while a viruses such as Hepatitis B virus, Herpes simplex virus and small pox virus have DNA as its genetic material.
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