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Carrier of genetic information in cells.



DNA, DNA-helix, DNA chain, genetic material, deoxyribonucleic acid, nucleic acid, adenine, thymine, cytosine, guanine, polynucleotide, nitrogen-containing base, deoxyribose, phosphoric acid, nucleotide, base pairs, genetic code, Watson, Crick, Franklin, Wilkins, right-handed, complementary, nucleus, chemistry, biochemistry, biology

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  • 2-deoxy-beta-D-ribose

Deoxyribonucleic acid/DNA


DNA is a polynucleotide with a double helix structure. It was discovered in 1953 by Watson and Crick.

It can be cut into nucleotide molecule components by careful hydrolysis. Each nucleotide is built up from a nitrogen-containing base, a phosphoric acid molecule and 2-deoxy-beta-D-ribose. The nitrogen-containing bases of DNA are adenine, thymine, guanine and cytosine.

Nucleotides attach and form polynucleotide chains. DNA consists of two polynucleotide chains, which are kept together by hydrogen bonds formed between complementary base pairs. Adenine can only attach to thymine, while guanine can only attach to cytosine, thus the base sequence of one chain determines the base sequence of the other, complementary chain.

The double helix is right-handed. The base pairs within the helix are covered with sugar-phosphate backbones consisting of deoxyribose and phosphoric acid. Each gene in the DNA defines a protein during biological protein synthesis, with the mediation of RNA molecules.


DNA carries genetic information in cells. In eukaryotes it is concentrated in the cell nucleus.


Deoxyribonucleic acid is mainly used in genetic engineering, for example in the modification of certain bacteria cells in order to produce important substances, such as insulin.

Phosphoric acid

  • phosphoric acid


  • cytosine
  • thymine
  • adenine
  • guanine

Base pairs

  • cytosine
  • thymine
  • adenine
  • guanine


  • adenosine monophosphate
  • guanosine monophosphate
  • thymidine monophosphate
  • cytidine monophosphate

Molecular model of DNA

Schematic model of DNA

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2-deoxy-beta-D-ribose (C₅H₁₀O₄)

A component of DNA, it contains one less hydroxyl group than β-D-ribose.

Organisation of genetic material

Eukaryotic cells with nuclei measuring only a few micrometres may contain nearly 2 metres of DNA, coiled multiple times.

Phosphoric acid (H₃PO₄)

It is also used as a food additive, limescale and rust remover.

Purine (C₅H₄N₄)

A heterocyclic aromatic organic compound, its derivatives include guanine and adenine.

Pyrimidine (C₄H₄N₂)

A heterocyclic organic compound, its derivatives are thymine, cytosine and uracil.


A polynucleotid made up of phosphoric acid, ribose, and nucleobases (cytosine, uracil, adenine and guanine).

Amoeba proteus

Widespread heterotrophic unicellular organisms with constantly changing shapes

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Bacteria are unicellular organisms that have no nuclei and are a few micrometres in length

Genome editing

Genome editing is a type of genetical engineering which results in changes in the genome of a living organism. This animation introduces one of the best...


Mitosis is the process by which a eukaryotic cell divides into two cells and the number of chromosomes remains unchanged.

Phosphate ion (PO₄³⁻)

A compound ion formed when a phosphoric acid molecule releases a proton.

Prenatal development

This animation demonstrates the development of the human embryo and foetus.


Tardigrades can survive in extreme environments, they can even stay alive in outer space.

The structure of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells

There are two basic cell types: prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells.

Animal and plant cells, cellular organelles

Eukaryotic cells contain a number of organelles.

Bacteria (spheres, rods, spirals)

Bacteria occur in a wide range of shapes, including spheres, rods and spirals.


Fibroin is a fibrillar protein excreted by silkworms.

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Polymerised ethylene is known as polyethylene, a type of plastic.


Viruses consist of protein and DNA or RNA, they reprogram infected cells to produce more viruses.

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