What Is A Nucleotide Made Of?
Last Updated on December 22, 2020 by Ephraim Iyodo
Well popularly asked, What is a nucleotide?
A nucleotide is the basic building block of nucleic acids.
RNA and DNA are polymers composed of long chains of nucleotides.
A nucleotide consists of a sugar molecule (either ribose in RNA or deoxyribose in DNA) attached to a phosphate group and a nitrogen-containing base.
The bases used in DNA are adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G), and thymine (T).
In RNA, the base uracil (U) is used instead of thymine.
Nucleotides are units and chemicals that are linked together to make nucleic acids, primarily RNA and DNA.
And they are both long chains of repeating nucleotides. DNA has A, C, G and T, and RNA has the same three nucleotides as DNA, and then T is replaced by uracil.
The nucleotide is the basic building block of these molecules, and is essentially assembled one at a time by the cell and then squeezed together in either replication, as DNA, or what we call transcription, when you make RNA.
In short terms, A typical nucleotide is made up of a phosphate group, a 5-carbon sugar, and a nitrogenous base.
The structure of nucleotides is simple, but the structure they can form together is complex.
Just as shown in the image above, the structure may seem a little complex but needs all it’s components to form a nucleotide.
The nitrogenous base is the central information carrier of the nucleotide structure. These molecules, which have different irradiated functional groups, have different abilities to interact with each other. As in the image, the idea structure represents the maximum number of hydrogen bonds involved between nucleotides. Because of the nucleotide structure, only one nucleotide can interact with another. The image above shows the bonding of thymine to adenine and guanine to cytosine. This is the correct and typical arrangement.
This uniform formation causes the structure to twist and is smooth if there are no errors. One of the ways that proteins are able to repair damaged DNA is that they can bind to irregular spots within the structure. Irregular spots occur when hydrogen bonding does not occur between opposing nucleotide molecules. The protein cuts out one nucleotide and replaces it with another. The dual nature of the genetic strands ensures that such errors can be corrected with a high degree of accuracy.
The second part of the nucleotide is the sugar. Regardless of the nucleotide, the sugar is always the same. The difference between DNA and RNA. In DNA, the 5-carbon sugar is deoxyribose, while in RNA the 5-carbon sugar is ribose. This gives the genetic molecules their names; the full name DNA is deoxyribonucleic acid and RNA is ribonucleic acid.
Sugar, with its open oxygen, can bind to the phosphate group of the next molecule. They then form a bond, which becomes a sugar-phosphate backbone. This structure adds rigidity because the covalent bonds they form are much stronger than the hydrogen bonds between the two strands. When the proteins come to process and transpose the DNA, they do so by separating the strands and reading only one side. When they pass on, the strands of genetic material come back together, driven by the attraction between opposing nucleotide bases. The sugar-phosphate backbone remains bonded at all times.
The last part of the nucleotide structure, the phosphate group, is probably familiar with another important ATP molecule. Adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, is the energy molecule that most life on Earth relies on to store and transfer energy between reactions. ATP contains three phosphate groups that can store large amounts of energy in their bonds. Unlike ATP, the bonds formed within the nucleotide are known as phosphodiester bonds because they occur between the phosphate group and the sugar molecule.
During DNA replication, an enzyme known as DNA polymerase picks up the correct nucleotide bases and begins to organize them against the chain it reads. Another protein, DNA ligase, completes the job by creating a phosphoid bond between the sugar molecule of one base and the phosphate group of the other. This creates the backbone of a new genetic molecule capable of being passed on to the next generation. DNA and RNA contain all the genetic information needed for cells to function.