Nucleic acids are the storage form of all the genetic information required by a cell.

They also are the cell’s preferred energy molecule ATP as well as acting as being used as intermediate electron carrier molecules in cellular respiration in the form of NAD+ (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) and FAD (flavin adenine dinucleotide).  cAMP (cyclic adenosine monophosphate) is also a secondary messenger molecule in various hormone interactions.

DNA and RNA are both polymers made up of subunits called nucleotides.

DNA – Deoxyribonucleic Acid


  • Double stranded, with each strand running in opposite directions.  This is referred to as anti-parallel.
  • One strand runs 5’ > 3’, the other runs 3’ > 5’
  • The two strands are held together by hydrogen bonding between complimentary base pairs.
  • Adenine binds with Thymine and they are held together by 2 hydrogen bonds.
  • Guanine binds with Cytosine and they are held together by 3 hydrogen bonds.

RNA – Ribonucleic Acid

  • Single stranded
  • Uracil replaces thymine
  • synthesized in the nucleus by the process of transcription but travels to the ribosomes in the cytoplasm to be translated into a polypeptide with a specific amino acid sequence
  • exists in three forms
    • mRNA – messenger RNA
    • rRNA – ribosomal RNA
    • tRNA – transfer RNA

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