Chem4Kids.com Home Page Matter Atoms Elements Reactions Biochemistry Activities Chem4kids Sections Search
Elements and Periodic Table
 

The Nucleic Acids

The nucleic acids are the building blocks of living organisms. You may have heard of DNA described the same way. Guess what? DNA is just one type of nucleic acid. Some other types are RNA, mRNA, and tRNA. All of these "NAs" work together to help cells replicate and build proteins. NA? Hold on. Might that stand for nucleic acid? It might. Nucleic acids - Pyrimidines

While you probably don't have to remember the full words right now, we should tell you that DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid. RNA stands for ribonucleic acid. The mRNA and tRNA are messenger RNA and transfer RNA, respectively. You may even hear about rRNA which stands for ribosomal RNA. They are called nucleic acids because scientists first found them in the nucleus of cells. Now that we have better equipment, nucleic acids have been found in mitochondria, chloroplasts, and cells that have no nucleus, such as bacteria and viruses.

The Basics

We already told you about the biggie nucleic acids (DNA, mRNA, tRNA). They are actually made up of chains of base pairs of nucleic acids stretching from as few as three to millions. When those pairs combine in super long chains (DNA), they make a shape called a double helix. The double helix shape is like a twisty ladder. The base pairs are the rungs. We're very close to talking about the biology of cells here. While it doesn't change your knowledge of the chemistry involved, know that DNA holds your genetic information. Everything you are in your body is encoded in the DNA found in your cells. Scientists still debate how much of your personality is even controlled by DNA. Back to the chemistry...

Five Easy Pieces

Nucleic acids - Purines There are five easy parts of nucleic acids. All nucleic acids are made up of the same building blocks (monomers). Chemists call the monomers "nucleotides." The five pieces are uracil, cytosine, thymine, adenine, and guanine. No matter what science class you are in, you will always hear about ATCG when looking at DNA. Uracil is only found in RNA. Just as there are twenty (20) amino acids needed by humans to survive, we also require five (5) nucleotides.

These nucleotides are made of three parts:
1. A five-carbon sugar
2. A base that has nitrogen (N) atoms
3. An ion of phosphoric acid known as phosphate (PO43-)

Next Page on Biochemistry
esta página en español

 
- Overview
- Metabolism
- Cycles
- Carbohydrates
- Lipids
> Nucleic Acids
- DNA
- Amino Acid Structure
- 20 Amino Acids
- Proteins
- Enzymes
- Enz. Regulation

MORE CHEMISTRY TOPICS



Link to Cosmos4Kids.com Link to Biology4Kids.com Link to Chem4Kids.com Link to Geography4Kids.com Link to Physics4Kids.com Link to NumberNut.com Rader Network Side Navigation
 

Chalk Talk: Polymers (US-NSF Video)
RETURN TO TOP
- or -

Chemistry Quiz

Biochemistry Quiz



 
RELATED LINKS
- Biology4Kids: Scientific Method
- Biology4Kids: Cell Structure
- Geography4Kids: Carbon Cycle
- Geography4Kids: Biosphere

  RETURN TO TOP
or
Search for more information...

* The custom search only looks at Rader's sites.
 



Help Page Go for site help or a list of chemistry topics at the site map!
©copyright 1997-2014 Andrew Rader Studios, All rights reserved.
Current Page: Chem4Kids.com | Biochemistry | Nucleic Acids



** Andrew Rader Studios does not monitor or review the content available at these web sites. They are paid advertisements and neither partners nor recommended web sites.