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Lesson 14

The Structure of DNA
by

Lori Richardson

on 27 February 2015

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Transcript of Lesson 14

The Structure of DNA
Nitrogenous Bases and Covalent Bonds
The nucleotides can be joined together in any order, meaning that any sequence of bases is possible.
The Structure of DNA
Nucleic Acids and Nucleotides
DNA’s nucleotides are made up of three basic components: a 5-carbon sugar called deoxyribose, a phosphate group, and a nitrogenous base.
The Structure of DNA
Nitrogenous Bases and Covalent Bonds
The nucleotides in a strand of DNA are joined by covalent bonds formed between their sugar and phosphate groups.
The Structure of DNA
Nitrogenous Bases and Covalent Bonds
DNA has four kinds of nitrogenous bases: adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C), and thymine (T).

The nitrogenous bases stick out sideways from the nucleotide chain.
The Structure of DNA
Antiparallel Strands
In the double-helix model, the two strands of DNA are “antiparallel”—they run in opposite directions.

This arrangement enables the nitrogenous bases on both strands to come into contact at the center of the molecule.

It also allows each strand of the double helix to carry a sequence of nucleotides, arranged almost like letters in a four-letter alphabet.
The Structure of DNA
Hydrogen Bonding
Watson and Crick discovered that hydrogen bonds could form between certain nitrogenous bases, providing just enough force to hold the two DNA strands together.

Hydrogen bonds are relatively weak chemical forces that allow the two strands of the helix to separate.

The ability of the two strands to separate is critical to DNA’s functions.
The Structure of DNA
Base Pairing
Watson and Crick’s model showed that hydrogen bonds could create a nearly perfect fit between nitrogenous bases along the center of the molecule.

These bonds would form only between certain base pairs—adenine with thymine, and guanine with cytosine.

This nearly perfect fit between A–T and G–C nucleotides is known as base pairing, and is illustrated in the figure.
The Structure of DNA
Base Pairing
Watson and Crick realized that base pairing explained Chargaff’s rule. It gave a reason why [A] = [T] and [G] = [C].

For every adenine in a double-stranded DNA molecule, there has to be exactly one thymine. For each cytosine, there was one guanine.
The Structure of DNA
THINK ABOUT IT
The DNA molecule must somehow specify how to assemble proteins, which are needed to regulate the various functions of each cell.

What kind of structure could serve this purpose without varying from cell to cell?

Understanding the structure of DNA has been the key to understanding how genes work.
The Structure of DNA
Nucleic Acids and Nucleotides
Nucleic acids are long, slightly acidic molecules originally identified in cell nuclei.

Nucleic acids are made up of nucleotides, linked together to form long chains.

The Structure of DNA
Chargaff’s Rules
Erwin Chargaff discovered that the percentages of adenine [A] and thymine [T] bases are almost equal in any sample of DNA.

The same thing is true for the other two nucleotides, guanine [G] and cytosine [C].

The observation that [A] = [T] and [G] = [C] became known as one of “Chargaff’s rules.”
The Structure of DNA
Franklin’s X-Rays
In the 1950s, British scientist Rosalind Franklin used a technique called X-ray diffraction to get information about the structure of the DNA molecule.
The Structure of DNA
Franklin’s X-Rays
X-ray diffraction revealed an X-shaped pattern showing that the strands in DNA are twisted around each other like the coils of a spring.

The angle of the X-shaped pattern suggested that there are two strands in the structure.

Other clues suggest that the nitrogenous bases are near the center of the DNA molecule.
The Structure of DNA
The Work of Watson and Crick
At the same time, James Watson, an American biologist, and Francis Crick, a British physicist, were also trying to understand the structure of DNA.


The Structure of DNA
The Work of Watson and Crick
Early in 1953, Watson was shown a copy of Franklin’s X-ray pattern.

The clues in Franklin’s X-ray pattern enabled Watson and Crick to build a model that explained the specific structure and properties of DNA.
The Structure of DNA
The Work of Watson and Crick
Watson and Crick’s breakthrough model of DNA was a double helix, in which two strands were wound around each other.
The Structure of DNA
The Double-Helix Model
A double helix looks like a twisted ladder.

In the double-helix model of DNA, the two strands twist around each other like spiral staircases.

The double helix accounted for Franklin’s X-ray pattern and explains Chargaff’s rule of base pairing and how the two strands of DNA are held together.
BTW: James Watson Graduated from IU
Nucleic Acids
and Nucleotides
Nitrogenous Bases and Covalent Bonds
Chargaff and Franklin
Watson and Crick
DNA Structure
Base Pairing
Lesson 14
Structure of DNA
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