You are on page 1of 2

Last Update: 2 November 2017 Part - I

Structure and chemical composition of Nucleic acid (DNA)

Nucleic acid molecule is a long chain polymer (poly nucleotide)

composed of monomeric units, called nucleotides (fig. 1). Each
nucleotide consists of nucleoside and phosphates group and each
nucleoside consists of and sugar molecule and a base. In are or DNA
deoxyribose sugar is present. A complete hydrolysis of DNA yields:

(Deoxyribose sugar)



Cyto sin e
Thy min e

Phosphoric acid H3PO4

Pentose (Deoxyribose)

Sugar sugar molecule ropresented by a

pentose sugar i.e. deoxyribose or 2

Bases All the genetic information of a living

arganism is stared is the linear sequence. The
bases are of two types namely
a) Purines and
b) Pyrimidines

a) Purines There are two ringed nitrogen

compound Adenine and Guanine are two
purines found is DNA. Their structural formulae is as follows-

b) Pyrimidines These are formed of one ring only and includes cytosine and thymine

Note - Between 1949 and 1953 Cchargaff studied the base composition of DNA in detail. He found that
although the base composition varied from one species to another. In all cases the amount of adenine was
equal to amount of thymin (A=T). The number of cytosine and guanine was also found to be equal (C=G).
Consequently the total quantity of purines equal to total quantity of pyrimidine (A+G = C+T)

On the other hand AT/GC ratio varies considerably between species. For example in man ratio is
1.52 while in E. coli the ratio is 0.93.

Structure of DNA double helix

In 1953 based on X- ray diffraction data of Wilkins and Franklin, Watson and Crick proposed a
model for DNA structure that provide on explanation its regularities in base composition and is biological
properties. Particularly duplication in the cell. According to them DNA is composed of two right handed
helical polynucleotide chains that form a double helix around the same central axis.
Two strands are antiparallel, meaning that their 3, 5 phospho-diester link run in opposite direction.
The bases are stacked inside the helix in a plane perpendicular to the helical axis.
The two strands are held together by hydrogen bonds established between two sugar moieties in the
opposite is strands. It is important that two H-bonds are formed between A and T and three H-bonds are
formed between G and C and therefore GC pair is more stable that AT pair. In addition to H-bonds
hydrophobic interactions established between the bases, an important to maintaining the double helical
structure. The purine and pyrimidine bases are connected to deoxyribose sugar molecule. Their linkages of
pyrimidine in between position 1 of deoxyribose and 1 of the pyrimidine. In purine it is between 1 of
deoxyribose and 9 of the purine.
A complete right-
handed turn is 3.4nm.
The purine and pyrimide
bases are spaced 0.34 nm
apart. This means that
there are base pairs per
complete tern of sugar
phosphate strands. The
diameter of the DNA
molecule is 2 nm. The
twisting of the strands
results in the formation
of deep and shallow
spiral grooves.
bases bound to sugar by
covalent bond whereas
the nitrogenous bases
bound to each other by
means of H-bonds.