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deoxyribonucleic acid

Pronunciation: de-oks'e-ri'bo-nu'kle'ik as'id

Definition: The type of nucleic acid containing deoxyribose as the sugar component and found principally in the nuclei (chromatin, chromosomes) and mitochondria of animal and plant cells, usually loosely bound to protein (hence the term deoxyribonucleoprotein); considered to be the autoreproducing component of chromosomes and of many viruses, and the repository of hereditary characteristics. Its linear macromolecular chain consists of deoxyribose molecules esterified with phosphate groups between the 3'- and 5'-hydroxyl groups; linked to this structure are the purines adenine (A) and guanine (G) and the pyrimidines cytosine (C) and thymine (T). DNA may be open ended or circular, single or double stranded. Many forms are known, the most commonly described of which is double stranded, wherein the pyrimidines and purines cross-link through hydrogen bonding in the schema A-T and C-G, bringing two antiparallel strands into a double helix. Chromosomes are composed of double-stranded DNA; mitochondrial DNA is circular.

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© Copyright 2018 Wolters Kluwer. All Rights Reserved. Review date: Sep 19, 2016.