Polymer of Nucleic Acid: Understanding Its Scientific Significance and Role

This article will break down the scientific explanation of nucleic acid polymers, clarifying their structure, function, and significance in the construction industry.

Key takeaways:

  • Nucleic acid polymers are large, complex molecules composed of nucleotides.
  • Sequences of nucleotides encode genetic instructions and determine protein synthesis.
  • There are two primary types of nucleic acids: DNA and RNA.
  • DNA stores genetic information, while RNA translates and carries out instructions.
  • Understanding the structure and function of nucleic acids is crucial for construction and genetic diversity.

What You Will Learn

Molecular Composition and Size

molecular composition and size

Polymers of nucleic acids are large, complex molecules composed of smaller units called nucleotides. Each nucleotide consists of a sugar molecule, a phosphate group, and a nitrogenous base. The sugar is either ribose in RNA or deoxyribose in DNA. These nucleotides link together through phosphate-sugar backbones in a specific sequence, creating a long chain. DNA molecules are typically double-stranded helices, while RNA usually exists as a single strand.

The size of these molecules varies greatly: DNA polymers can be composed of millions of nucleotides, forming the chromosomes found in the nucleus of eukaryotic cells, whereas RNA polymers are usually shorter, facilitating various functions such as protein synthesis and gene regulation within the cell.

Understanding the structure and size is crucial, as they dictate the unique functions of DNA and RNA in storing genetic information, transmitting it, and executing cellular operations.


The order in which nucleotides arrange themselves along a nucleic acid chain constitutes a sequence, akin to letters forming words in a sentence. Each nucleotide is composed of a sugar molecule, a phosphate group, and a nitrogenous base, where the base can be adenine (A), thymine (T), guanine (G), or cytosine (C) in DNA, with uracil (U) replacing thymine in RNA.

Sequences determine the genetic instructions encoded within DNA and RNA. These instructions are crucial for the synthesis of proteins, which are the workhorses of the cell, performing a plethora of functions. Moreover, sequences are subject to mutation, where changes can lead to variations in organisms, driving evolution or, in some cases, causing disease.

In essence, the sequence of a nucleic acid is the foundation of its function, directing the activities of the cell and the organism as a whole.


Understanding the diversity of nucleic acids hinges on recognizing the two primary types: deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and ribonucleic acid (RNA). Their roles are distinct yet interdependent. DNA serves as the long-term storage of genetic information, a blueprint that determines the characteristics of an organism. It’s akin to a library archive, preserving the instructions needed to construct the various components of a cell.

In contrast, RNA is the active translator that carries out DNA’s instructions. It comes in various forms – messenger RNA (mRNA) transfers the genetic code to the cell’s protein factories, transfer RNA (tRNA) brings in the appropriate building blocks, and ribosomal RNA (rRNA) helps form the structures where proteins are made.

These polymers, although made up of similar building blocks, perform unique and crucial tasks, establishing the foundation for the complexity of life.

Deoxyribonucleic Acid

Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) serves as the blueprint for all living organisms, storing genetic information crucial for development, functioning, and reproduction. This polymer, shaped like a double helix, is composed of nucleotides that include a phosphate group, deoxyribose sugar, and one of four nitrogenous bases: adenine (A), thymine (T), cytosine (C), or guanine (G).

Information Encoding: The order of these bases encodes the instructions for building proteins, with each set of three bases, called a codon, specifying a particular amino acid.

Stability and Replication: DNA’s double-stranded structure, with bases paired (A with T, C with G), provides stability and a mechanism for self-replication, ensuring that genetic information is passed down accurately during cell division.

Cellular Operations: Aside from encoding protein blueprints, DNA contains regions that regulate gene expression, influencing when, where, and how proteins are made, playing a critical role in the cell’s day-to-day operations.

Genetic Diversity: While all human DNA is 99.9% identical, the 0.1% variation in the base sequence accounts for the vast diversity between individuals, from physical appearance to susceptibility to diseases.

Ribonucleic Acid

Ribonucleic acid, or RNA, plays a critical role in translating the genetic code from DNA into proteins, which perform essential functions in living organisms. Unlike DNA, RNA is usually single-stranded and can fold into complex three-dimensional shapes.

  • RNA is composed of four nucleotides: adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G), and uracil (U), which pairs with adenine instead of thymine found in DNA.
  • The sugar in RNA is ribose, which has an additional oxygen atom compared to the deoxyribose sugar in DNA.
  • There are several types of RNA, each with a unique function:
  • Messenger RNA (mRNA) serves as a template for protein synthesis.
  • Transfer RNA (tRNA) brings the appropriate amino acids to the ribosome during protein synthesis.
  • Ribosomal RNA (rRNA) is a key component of ribosomes, where protein synthesis occurs.

RNA can also catalyze biological reactions, acting as enzymes known as ribozymes.

Some viruses use RNA instead of DNA as their genetic material, relying on host cells to replicate and propagate.

Through its diverse forms and functions, RNA is essential for gene expression and the regulation of cellular activities.


Which is the polymer of nucleotides?

The polymers of nucleotides are RNA (Ribonucleic acid) and DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid).

What is the polymer of A nucleic acid quizlet?

The polymer of a nucleic acid is composed of nucleotide monomers, which can polymerize to form either RNA (ribonucleic acid) or DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), depending on the types of nucleotide monomers involved.

What is nucleic acid made of?

Nucleic acid is made of nitrogen-containing bases, phosphate groups, and sugar molecules.

What are the polymers of RNA?

The polymers of RNA are ribose sugar, nucleobase, and phosphate group, which form a homopolymer of nucleotide and a heteropolymer of A (adenine), U (uracil), G (guanine), and C (cytosine).

What are the distinguishing characteristics of DNA, a polymer of nucleic acid?

DNA, a polymer of nucleic acid, has a distinctive double helix structure composed of a sugar-phosphate backbone and pairs of adenine (A) with thymine (T), and cytosine (C) with guanine (G) as its base units.

How does the structure of nucleic acid polymers contribute to genetic coding?

The structure of nucleic acid polymers, composed of repeating nucleotide units that comprise a sugar, phosphate group, and a nitrogenous base, contribute to genetic coding by the sequential arrangement of these bases, which translates to specific amino acids and eventually forms proteins.

What roles do polymer nucleotides play in protein synthesis?

Polymer nucleotides serve as the primary building blocks for the creation of RNA strands, which in turn play a critical role in protein synthesis by providing the template for the coding and sequencing of amino acids.

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