Nucleic Acid Facts

Quick Facts about Nucleic Acids

Illustration of RNA and DNA and their components

 Wikimedia Commons

If you're taking general chemistry, organic chemistry, or biochemistry, you'll need to understand some basic concepts about nucleic acids, the polymers used to code the genetic information of organisms. Here are some quick nucleic acid facts to get you started.

Genetic Information

  • Nucleic acids are the molecules that code the genetic information of organisms.
  • The two nucleic acids used in the repair, reproduction, and protein synthesis are deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA, as shown in the graphic) and ribonucleic acid (RNA).
  • DNA and RNA are polymers made up of monomers called nucleotides.

Double Helix

  • A DNA molecule is a double helix made up of two strands of polymers that are complementary to each other but not identical. Hydrogen bonding holds the base pairs of the two strands together.
  • The DNA base pairs are made up of adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine
  • RNA uses uracil in place of thiamine
  • RNA is used to direct the production of proteins by the cell.
  • RNA is created by copying DNA