Nucleic acid

The nucleic acid is a chained nucleotide, which can have large sizes. This acid includes all those cells that contain the genetic information of the living being that carries them. It is commonly known as DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) and RNA (ribonucleic acid), and the man who discovered them was Friedrich Miescher, while the year was 1869. Carbohydrate and nitrogenous bases are the elements that help differentiate between the two acids. For their part, nucleotides are made up of monosaccharides, phosphate and a nitrogenous base.

what is nucleic acid

Nucleic acid tends to become very familiar with proteins whose composition or constitution is based on having a primordial, imperative and main cell. This cell is responsible for distributing the genetic information of a person and this can be DNA and RNA.

The term “nucleic” is composed of the suffix ico, which refers to something relative or apparent, while “nucleus” comes from the Latin Nucleus, which means center, seed or main area.

DNA is arranged in a chain, as mentioned above, in two long chains, which can be linear (prokaryotic) or circular (eukaryotic). It is of the utmost importance for the organism, since it is the one that provides and transmits most of the information that develops the biological characteristics that an individual possesses; In addition to this, it triggers the activities of other cells, making use of RNA in many cases. Its structure is somewhat complex, presenting a primary and a secondary, which is subdivided into small helices of different appearance.

discovery of nucleic acids

Johan Friedrich Miescher was in charge of discovering the nucleic acid in the year 1869, to achieve this, he was in charge of isolating acidic substances called nucleins from the nuclei of cells that are unique from proteins.

The original name was changed some time later, as multiple investigations and analyzes were carried out and Miescher chose Nucleic Acid as a more appropriate term. Later, specifically in the year 1953, Francis and Crick James Watson found a way to discover the structure of DNA thanks to a photograph taken by Rosalind Franklin, who executed a technique called X-ray diffraction.

Classification of nucleic acids


It is necessary to clarify that there are several types of nucleic acids and that they are classified according to their functions. Each of these acids will be explained below.

Ribonucleic acid/RNA

Ribonucleic acid, better known as RNA or RNA, is an organic chemical compound that can be found in both eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells, it is also the genetic code of some viruses. It is one of the substances that actively participate in protein synthesis, controlling part of the phases it goes through when it is created.

It is also considered one of the most important carriers of information within the body and in conjunction with DNA, it works to launch several of the most important cells that can be found.

  • Characteristics: RNA is the compound that is responsible for carrying the information of some processes to the ribosomes and, like deoxyribonucleic acid, is made up of nucleotides. Its nitrogenous bases are not A, G, C, T, but A, G, C, U. It is normal to find it being synthesized in cell nuclei (although this does not occur in prokaryotic cells).
  • There are different types of RNA, among which are the messenger (carries information about the amino acids to the ribosomes, so that protein synthesis occurs), transfer (transfers amino acids), ribosomal (the one that combines with certain proteins to create ribosomes), regulators (complement other cells or RNA), interference (exclude some specific genes) and antisense (small strands of RNA).

  • Structure: The chemical structure of RNA nucleic acids is made up of a series of nucleotides which, in turn, have components such as monosaccharides, phosphates and a nitrogenous base. It comes from genes present in the DNA, from which a kind of strand is released that serves as a template for the new ribonucleic acid.

Deoxyribonucleic acid/DNA


DNA is one of the types of nucleic acids that are responsible for storing and distributing the hereditary or genetic information of a person or living beings, but in addition to this, its objective and responsibility is genetic transmission.

DNA is located in both eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells, in the case of the former, it is located in the natural chromosomes of the nucleus, chloroplasts and mitochondria. On the other hand, in the case of prokaryotes, these are located only on the chromosome.

  • Characteristics: DNA has genetic characteristics that allow it to send unique information about its composition. All this is based on the real reason why changes occur in living beings and what are the individual characteristics that they need to transmit to their descendants.

    But it also has characteristics of inheritance, a name given to the elements transmitted in the information that is located in the DNA chain. If examples of DNA nucleic acids are needed, it could be paternity tests or identification of a person.

  • Structure: the chemical structure of DNA nucleic acids is based on a composition of phosphoric acid, nitrogenous bases divided into two aspects, the first is ianine and the second is adenine, it is also made up of deoxyribose, thymine and cytosine, all this makes that their chains are long and composed of nucleotides.

artificial nucleic acids

As their name indicates, they are totally different acid components from the previous ones, of course they have a composition of nucleic acids the same as the rest, but their functions are different and they are classified as:

  • Peptide nucleic acid: it is the one where the sequence of nucleic acids varies, since its skeleton, which was originally phosphate, is replaced by glycine, which joins thanks to a classic peptide bond. Their bases are pyrimidine and purine and this means that they can be joined to the skeleton with carboxylic carbon. These do not have a charged backbone, so they can bind more strongly to complementary strands of single-stranded DNA because there is no electrostatic repulsion.
  • Morpholine: the composition of morpholino nucleic acids is based on derivatives of natural acids and they differ because they have a morpholine ring and not a sugar ring, this means that the nitrogenous base of natural acids and the phosphodiester bond can be preserved.

    These tend to be used for scientific research, mostly in oligomeric forms with around 25 nucleotides. Their use is based on performing reverse genetics, as they have the ability to fully bind to the pre-RNA and avoid both the process and its cutting.

  • Glycolic nucleic acid: it is an acid that changes ribose for glycerol, of course, keeping both the phosphodiester bond and its base in perfect condition, this makes it unnatural and falls into this classification. It is able to become one with RNA and DNA in a stable way, which is surprising considering that it is artificial. The metabolism of glycolic nucleic acids is simple, quite similar to natural ones.
  • Threosic nucleic acid: it is different from natural components because it does not have sugar, but treose and with it, chains called hybrids between ATN and DNA can be synthesized, this is achieved by using DNA polymerase. It has the ability to fully bind to RNA, which is why it is frequently used in scientific research.
  • Chimeroplast: It is a hybrid between RNA and DNA and is used to make mutations in gene therapies. Its composition is based on five DNA chains flanked by RNA on their sides, in the DNA chains the base that the scientist wants to change from the DNA is located. while the flanking parts of the RNA give stability to the plastid chimera.

Nucleic acid function

Each of the nucleic components have different functions, but all are important. Actually, each one exists within the genetic material of living beings, they are responsible for storing and distributing hereditary or genetic information and it is thanks to them that scientists can identify a person through fluids such as blood, saliva, semen, etc.

All the information distributed are individualizing characteristics of people or living beings, they are what define those beings and denote physical characteristics, for example, build, skin color, weight, height, etc. The same that first belonged to the ancestors and that pass to the descendants.

Frequently Asked Questions about Nucleic Acids

What are nucleic acids?

They are cells that have genetic information.

What is the importance of nucleic acids?

They are important because thanks to them it is possible to determine who a person is or what the fluids found or studied by scientists or experts in the area belong to.

Where are nucleic acids found?

They are located in the genetic material of living beings.

What is the function of nucleic acids?

Distribute the genetic information of living beings.

Who discovered nucleic acids?

Johan Friedrich Miescher in the year 1869.