What are nucleic acids?
Nucleic acids serve mostly to store and transmitt genetic information. They are found in all living cells and viruses. The most common nucleic acids are deoxyrobonucleic acid (DNA) and ribonucleic acid (RNA).
Nucleic acids are biopolymers, forming a long chain of individual monomers, called nucleotides. Each nucleotide consists of three parts: a heterocyclic base (either a purine or a pyrimidine), a pentose suger (either a ribose or a deoxyribose), and a phosphate group. There are 4 main types of bases: Adenine, Cytosine, Guanine, and Thymine (in DNA) or Uracil (in RNA).
Nucleic acids can be single stranded, or double stranded. A double stranded nucleic acids consists of two strands that are maintained together by a network of hydrogen bonds. RNA is usually single stranded, while DNA is mostly double stranded.
In this chapter, we examine in detail the chemistry and geometry of nucleic acids, both DNA and RNA.