Nucleic Acids: DNA and RNA

About this chapter

Intro to Biology: DNA and RNA

DNA and RNA - you may hear those terms thrown around in everyday life, perhaps on your favorite criminal investigation show, but what do these terms really mean? To unravel the intricacies of nucleic acids, you'll need to learn the language of nucleotides. From the beginning, we'll show you how sugars, phosphate groups and nitrogenous bases use phosphodiester bonds to form polynucleotides. This arrangement allows the cell to use the nucleotide language to create an impressive array of proteins necessary for life. The alphabet that comprises this language is short but achieves miraculous results.

Each nucleotide is identical except for its nitrogenous base. Adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine form DNA's four-letter alphabet. We'll give you an easy way to remember which ones are purines and which ones are pyrimidines. You've probably heard of parallel lines before, but what does it mean to be antiparallel? Our lesson on complementary base pairing will explain this and more.

Next, we'll climb the double helix ladder as we make sense of the Watson-Crick model of DNA. You'll explore the series of discoveries and experiments that made this breakthrough possible. We'll also examine DNA as a hereditary molecule. One of the implications is that, unless you have an identical twin, you and your DNA are truly unique.

Our last lesson will cover the differences between RNA and DNA when it comes to sugars, nitrogenous bases and structures. With the central dogma of molecular biology, you'll learn how DNA and RNA work together to create proteins. We'll go into greater detail with three major types of RNA and their functions. Finally, you'll learn why DNA is used much more often than RNA as evidence in criminal investigations. Even better, we cover this vast wealth of information in four short lessons, so tell your friends about our awesome organic chemistry preparation.

Try this course for FREE

Create an account to unlock content

By submitting this form, I agree to these terms & conditions

In this lesson, you'll discover what nucleotides look like and how they come together to form polynucleotides. We'll also explore nucleic acids and focus on DNA in particular.

Learn the language of nucleotides as we look at the nitrogenous bases adenine, guanine, cytosine and thymine. Armed with this knowledge, you'll also see why DNA strands must run in opposite directions.

This lesson will help you to navigate the twists and turns of DNA's structure. We'll also clue you in on the amazing discoveries that put this nucleic acid in the limelight as the molecule of heredity.

In this lesson, you'll explore RNA structure and learn the central dogma of molecular biology. Along the way, you'll meet the three types of RNA and see how the cell uses them most effectively.

Watched all the videos in this chapter?

Take the practice chapter exam.

Did you like this?
Yes No

Thanks for your feedback!

What didn't you like?

What didn't you like?