Thymine /ˈθaɪmᵻn/ (T, Thy) is one of the four nucleobases in the nucleic acid of DNA that are represented by the letters G–C–A–T. The others are adenine, guanine, and cytosine. Thymine is also known as 5-methyluracil, a pyrimidine nucleobase. In RNA, thymine is replaced by the nucleobase uracil. Thymine was first isolated (from calves’ thymus glands) in 1893 by Albrecht Kossel and Albert Neumann.
Adenine /ˈædᵻnᵻn/ (A, Ade) is a nucleobase (a purine derivative). Its derivatives have a variety of roles in biochemistry includingcellular respiration, in the form of both the energy-rich adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and the cofactors nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) and flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD). It also has functions in protein synthesis and as a chemical component ofDNA and RNA. The shape of adenine is complementary to either thymine in DNA or uracil in RNA.
The image right shows pure adenine, as an independent molecule. When connected into DNA, a covalent bond is formed betweendeoxyribose sugar and the bottom left nitrogen, so removing the hydrogen. The remaining structure is called an adenine residue, as part of a larger molecule. Adenosine is adenine reacted with ribose as used in RNA and ATP; deoxyadenosine adenine attached todeoxyribose, as is used to form DNA.
A purine is a heterocyclic aromatic organic compound. It consists of a pyrimidine ring fused to an imidazole ring. Purines, which include substituted purines and their tautomers, are the most widely occurring nitrogen-containing heterocycle in nature.
Purines and pyrimidines make up the two groups of nitrogenous bases, including the two groups of nucleotide bases. Two of the fourdeoxyribonucleotides and two of the four ribonucleotides, the respective building-blocks of DNA and RNA, are purines.
Deoxyribonucleic acid (i/diˈɒksiˌraɪboʊnjʊˌkliːɪk, –ˌkleɪɪk/; DNA) is a molecule that carries most of the geneticinstructions used in the development, functioning and reproduction of all known living organisms and many viruses. DNA is a nucleic acid; alongside proteins and carbohydrates, nucleic acids compose the three major macromoleculesessential for all known forms of life. Most DNA molecules consist of two biopolymer strands coiled around each other to form a double helix. The two DNA strands are known as polynucleotides since they are composed of simpler units called nucleotides. Each nucleotide is composed of a nitrogen-containing nucleobase—either cytosine (C), guanine(G), adenine (A), or thymine (T)—as well as a monosaccharide sugar called deoxyribose and a phosphate group. The nucleotides are joined to one another in a chain by covalent bonds between the sugar of one nucleotide and the phosphate of the next, resulting in an alternating sugar-phosphate backbone. According to base pairing rules (A with T, and C with G), hydrogen bonds bind the nitrogenous bases of the two separate polynucleotide strands to make double-stranded DNA. The total amount of related DNA base pairs on Earth is estimated at 5.0 x 1037, and weighs 50 billiontonnes. In comparison, the total mass of the biosphere has been estimated to be as much as 4 TtC (trillion tons ofcarbon).
DNA stores biological information. The DNA backbone is resistant to cleavage, and both strands of the double-stranded structure store the same biological information. Biological information is replicated as the two strands are separated. A significant portion of DNA (more than 98% for humans) is non-coding, meaning that these sections do not serve as patterns for protein sequences.
The two strands of DNA run in opposite directions to each other and are therefore anti-parallel. Attached to each sugar is one of four types of nucleobases (informally, bases). It is the sequence of these four nucleobases along the backbone that encodes biological information. Under the genetic code, RNA strands are translated to specify the sequence of amino acids within proteins. These RNA strands are initially created using DNA strands as a template in a process called transcription.
Within cells, DNA is organized into long structures called chromosomes. During cell division these chromosomes are duplicated in the process ofDNA replication, providing each cell its own complete set of chromosomes. Eukaryotic organisms (animals, plants, fungi, and protists) store most of their DNA inside the cell nucleus and some of their DNA in organelles, such as mitochondria or chloroplasts. In contrast, prokaryotes(bacteria and archaea) store their DNA only in the cytoplasm. Within the chromosomes, chromatin proteins such as histones compact and organize DNA. These compact structures guide the interactions between DNA and other proteins, helping control which parts of the DNA are transcribed.
DNA was first isolated by Friedrich Miescher in 1869. Its molecular structure was identified by James Watson and Francis Crick in 1953, whose model-building efforts were guided by X-ray diffraction data acquired by Rosalind Franklin. DNA is used by researchers as a molecular tool to explore physical laws and theories, such as the ergodic theorem and the theory of elasticity. The unique material properties of DNA have made it an attractive molecule for material scientists and engineers interested in micro- and nano-fabrication. Among notable advances in this field areDNA origami and DNA-based hybrid materials.
One tiny piece of our DNA is inherited only down the female line. It is called mitochondrial DNA because it is held as a unique circular strand in small tubular packets known as mitochondria that function rather like batteries within the cell cytoplasm. Some molecular biologists say that, aeons ago, the mitochondrion was a free-living organism with its own DNA, and possessed the secret of generating lots of energy. It invaded single celled nucleated organisms and has stayed on ever since, dividing, like yeast, by binary fission. Males, although they receive and use their mother’s mitochondrial DNA, cannot pass it on to their children. The sperm has its own mitochondria to power the long journey from the vagina to the ovum but, on entry into the ovum, the male mitochondria wither and die. It is as if the man had to leave his guns at the door.