Monday, April 16, 2012


Nucleotides are the building blocks of DNA. There are four in DNA: adenine, guanine, thymine, and cytosine. In RNA thymine is substituted out for uracil. Nucleotides are split up into two categories based on their ring structure. There are the purines, which are two aromatic rings, and they are adenine and guanine. The pyrimidines only are made up of one aromatic ring and they are thymine, cytosine, and uracil. The way I like to remember which is which is that purines are the larger molecule even though they have the shorter name!

Unfortunately all of the pictures that I found including uracil weren't very good and I could hardly read the names. So how do nucleotides "build" DNA? Research done by Chargaff proved that there are equal amounts of adenine and thymine and equal amounts of cytosine and guanine. Watson and Crick later elucidated that adenine hydrogen bonds with thymine and guanine hydrogen bonds with cytosine to create a double helix structure. There are three hydrogen bonds formed between G and C, but only two hydrogen bonds between A and T, making them the weaker pair.

Nucleotides also serve another very important function: when translating RNA into a protein a set of three nucleotides will code for an amino acid. This is called the genetic code. It is said to be mostly universal and degenerate. What is degenerate? When I first heard it I thought it sounded like something terrible, but all it actually means is that one amino acid has many codons (a triplet of nucleotides that codes for an amino acid).

Answer to Saturday's question: Gregor Mendel was actually thought to be crazy back in his time. Nobody believed his results and he was considered a fraud. The leading theory of inheritance in Mendel's day was a blending theory. Scientists thought that both parent's traits mixed together and their offspring was a blend of them all.

Do you know what the difference is between a nucleotide and a nucleoside?


Hazel said...

Who knew there was so much to DNA lol?

Anonymous said...

All I remember, if I remember it correctly, about nucleotides is that Phenylketonuria is a caused by a major deficiency of Thymine. AWESOME that some blogs about it! And thanks for your comment!:D

Nancy Thompson said...

It's like speaking a different language! I never was very good at science. Cool explanation though!

I'm a new follower via the A to Z. Nice to meet you, Jennifer!

Jennifer Macfarlan said...

Hazel - I agree!

Amber - I had no idea about Phenylketonuria, thanks for stopping by and giving an interesting fact!

Nancy - Thanks for stopping by!!