About This Chapter
Nucleic Acids: 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.
1. DNA: Chemical Structure of Nucleic Acids & Phosphodiester Bonds
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.
2. DNA: Adenine, Guanine, Cytosine, Thymine & Complementary Base Pairing
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.
3. DNA: Double Helix Structure and Hereditary Molecule
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.
4. Differences Between RNA and DNA & Types of RNA (mRNA, tRNA & rRNA)
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.
5. tRNA: Role, Function & Synthesis
This lesson focuses on transfer RNA (tRNA). It covers what tRNA is, what it does in our cells, and how it is made. It also gives a brief description of the history and discovery of tRNA.
Earning College Credit
Did you know… We have over 49 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 2,000 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.
To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page
Transferring credit to the school of your choice
Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.
Other chapters within the Biology 101: Intro to Biology course
- Science Basics
- Inorganic Chemistry Review for Biology
- Organic Chemistry Introduction
- Enzymatic Biochemistry
- Cell Membranes
- Cell Structure and Organelles
- DNA Replication: Processes and Steps
- Transcription and Translation Processes
- Genetic Mutations
- Metabolic Biochemistry
- Cell Division
- Physiology I: The Musculoskeletal, Circulatory, Respiratory, Digestive, and Excretory Systems
- Physiology II: The Nervous and Endocrine Systems
- Reproduction and Development in Animals
- Genetics: Principles of Heredity
- Ecological Principles
- Principles of Evolution
- Earth's Timeline and Evolution
- Phylogeny and Organism Classification
- Molecular Biology Lab Techniques
- Studying for Biology 101