DNA is a long-chain molecule in which the sequence of specific nucleotides determines protein synthesis and hence the structure and function of the entire organism:
The structure of DNA is as follows:
- it is a double helix molecule formed from two interwoven strands
- each strand consists of a chain of nucleotides
- each nucleotide consists of a deoxyribose sugar, a phosphate group and a nitrogenous base
- there are four possible nitrogenous bases which occur in DNA: adenine (A), thymidine (T), guanine (G), and cytosine (C). Adenine and guanine are purines, whilst thymidine and cytosine are pyrimidines.
- the deoxyribose sugars make up the backbone of each strand; the nitrogenous bases face each other and are paired by hydrogen bonding. There is specific base pairing:
- adenine with thymidine, with the formation of two hydrogen bonds
- guanine with cytosine, with the formation of three hydrogen bonds
- the deoxyribose sugar backbone of each strand is mediated by the formation of phosphodiester bonds between the phosphate group of one nitrogenous base - itself attached to the 3' carbon of a deoxyribose sugar - and the 5' carbon of deoxyribose on the next nucleotide. The polynucleotide chain that is formed thus has a 5' and a 3' end.