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Macromolecules
Key Concepts

Roles of the Nucleic Acids

DNA and RNA molecules are involved in biological information storage and utilization in cells and living organisms.

Genetic messages are stored as a linear sequences of bases in the DNA molecules which are then copied into equivalent sequences as RNA molecules. These RNA molecules then carry the information to the parts of a cell where the translation and interpretation of the message takes place.

DNA is also the molecule which is inherited from one cell to the next and from one generation to the next.

    Key concepts:
  • genetic information is stored as a sequence of nucleotides (as their bases) along a length of a polynucleotide molecule.
  • in most organisms the information is stored in and on DNA molecules, but certain viruses, such as the HIV virus, use RNA for this purpose.
  • every generation these DNA molecules are accurately copied and copies of the information they contain are passed along to the next generation.
  • cells pass on information this way during cell division.
  • sexual reproduction involves the copying and transmitting of DNA molecules from two parents into the next generation.
  • when needed, information is copied from the DNA molecule into the form of an RNA molecule, which is then used for the next stage. DNA is never used directly for this purpose.
  • RNA molecules carry the messages from the DNA to the next stage in the translation and use of this information.


Science@a Distance
© 2001, Professor John Blamire