Nucleic Acids The essential instructions of life.

Who discovered nucleic acids?

Nucleic acids were discovered in 1868 by Friedrich Miescher when he isolated a new compound from the nuclei of white blood cells.

What are Nucleic Acids?

Nucleic acids are found in the nuclei of living cells. A nucleic acid is an organic compound, such as DNA or RNA, that is built of small units called nucleotides.

DNA includes the bases adenine, guanine, cytosine and thymine. In RNA, thymine is replaced by uracil. In DNA and RNA, nucleotides are chemically linked together in a chain. In DNA, A always binds to T, and G always binds to C. The order, or sequence, of the nucleotides in DNA allows nucleic acid to encode an organism's genetic blueprint.

What does it look like?

The binding of bases allows DNA to take its known shape, called a double helix. A double helix is like a spiral staircase. The double helix shape forms naturally and is very strong, making the two polynucleotide chains difficult to break apart.

What does it do for your body? How is it used?

DNA holds the genetic information found in genes. It's sequence of bases makes a code that carries instructions for the order of amino acids in proteins. On the other hand, RNA uses the information in DNA to assemble the correct amino acids and help make the protein. Inherited characteristics from one generation to the next are passed through DNA.

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