Depiction of the adenine–thymine Watson–Crick base pair
Nucleic acids RNA (left) and DNA (right).
The Swiss scientist Friedrich Miescher discovered nucleic acid first naming it as nuclein, in 1868. Later, he raised the idea that it could be involved in heredity.

A base pair (bp) is a fundamental unit of double-stranded nucleic acids consisting of two nucleobases bound to each other by hydrogen bonds.

- Base pair

Using amino acids and the process known as protein synthesis, the specific sequencing in DNA of these nucleobase-pairs enables storing and transmitting coded instructions as genes.

- Nucleic acid
Depiction of the adenine–thymine Watson–Crick base pair

8 related topics

Alpha

The structure of the DNA double helix. The atoms in the structure are colour-coded by element and the detailed structures of two base pairs are shown in the bottom right.

DNA

Polymer composed of two polynucleotide chains that coil around each other to form a double helix carrying genetic instructions for the development, functioning, growth and reproduction of all known organisms and many viruses.

Polymer composed of two polynucleotide chains that coil around each other to form a double helix carrying genetic instructions for the development, functioning, growth and reproduction of all known organisms and many viruses.

The structure of the DNA double helix. The atoms in the structure are colour-coded by element and the detailed structures of two base pairs are shown in the bottom right.
Chemical structure of DNA; hydrogen bonds shown as dotted lines. Each end of the double helix has an exposed 5' phosphate on one strand and an exposed 3' hydroxyl group (—OH) on the other.
A section of DNA. The bases lie horizontally between the two spiraling strands ([[:File:DNA orbit animated.gif|animated version]]).
DNA major and minor grooves. The latter is a binding site for the Hoechst stain dye 33258.
From left to right, the structures of A, B and Z DNA
DNA quadruplex formed by telomere repeats. The looped conformation of the DNA backbone is very different from the typical DNA helix. The green spheres in the center represent potassium ions.
A covalent adduct between a metabolically activated form of benzo[a]pyrene, the major mutagen in tobacco smoke, and DNA
Location of eukaryote nuclear DNA within the chromosomes
T7 RNA polymerase (blue) producing an mRNA (green) from a DNA template (orange)
DNA replication: The double helix is unwound by a helicase and topo­iso­merase. Next, one DNA polymerase produces the leading strand copy. Another DNA polymerase binds to the lagging strand. This enzyme makes discontinuous segments (called Okazaki fragments) before DNA ligase joins them together.
Interaction of DNA (in orange) with histones (in blue). These proteins' basic amino acids bind to the acidic phosphate groups on DNA.
The lambda repressor helix-turn-helix transcription factor bound to its DNA target
The restriction enzyme EcoRV (green) in a complex with its substrate DNA
Recombination involves the breaking and rejoining of two chromosomes (M and F) to produce two rearranged chromosomes (C1 and C2).
The DNA structure at left (schematic shown) will self-assemble into the structure visualized by atomic force microscopy at right. DNA nanotechnology is the field that seeks to design nanoscale structures using the molecular recognition properties of DNA molecules.
Maclyn McCarty (left) shakes hands with Francis Crick and James Watson, co-originators of the double-helix model.
Pencil sketch of the DNA double helix by Francis Crick in 1953
A blue plaque outside The Eagle pub commemorating Crick and Watson

DNA and ribonucleic acid (RNA) are nucleic acids.

The nitrogenous bases of the two separate polynucleotide strands are bound together, according to base pairing rules (A with T and C with G), with hydrogen bonds to make double-stranded DNA.

A hairpin loop from a pre-mRNA. Highlighted are the nucleobases (green) and the ribose-phosphate backbone (blue). This is a single strand of RNA that folds back upon itself.

RNA

Polymeric molecule essential in various biological roles in coding, decoding, regulation and expression of genes.

Polymeric molecule essential in various biological roles in coding, decoding, regulation and expression of genes.

A hairpin loop from a pre-mRNA. Highlighted are the nucleobases (green) and the ribose-phosphate backbone (blue). This is a single strand of RNA that folds back upon itself.
Three-dimensional representation of the 50S ribosomal subunit. Ribosomal RNA is in ochre, proteins in blue. The active site is a small segment of rRNA, indicated in red.
Watson-Crick base pairs in a siRNA (hydrogen atoms are not shown)
Structure of a fragment of an RNA, showing a guanosyl subunit.
Secondary structure of a telomerase RNA.
Structure of a hammerhead ribozyme, a ribozyme that cuts RNA
Uridine to pseudouridine is a common RNA modification.
Double-stranded RNA
Robert W. Holley, left, poses with his research team.

RNA and deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) are nucleic acids.

This antisense-based process involves steps that first process the RNA so that it can base-pair with a region of its target mRNAs.

Base pairing: Two base pairs are produced by four nucleotide monomers, nucleobases are in blue. Guanine (G) is paired with cytosine (C) via three hydrogen bonds, in red. Adenine (A) is paired with uracil (U) via two hydrogen bonds, in red.

Nucleobase

Base pairing: Two base pairs are produced by four nucleotide monomers, nucleobases are in blue. Guanine (G) is paired with cytosine (C) via three hydrogen bonds, in red. Adenine (A) is paired with uracil (U) via two hydrogen bonds, in red.
Purine nucleobases are fused-ring molecules.
Pyrimidine nucleobases are simple ring molecules.
Chemical structure of DNA, showing four nucleobase pairs produced by eight nucleotides: adenine (A) is joined to thymine (T), and guanine (G) is joined to cytosine (C). + This structure also shows the directionality of each of the two phosphate-deoxyribose backbones, or strands. The 5' to 3' (read "5 prime to 3 prime") directions are: down the strand on the left, and up the strand on the right. The strands twist around each other to form a double helix structure.

Nucleobases, also known as nitrogenous bases or often simply bases, are nitrogen-containing biological compounds that form nucleosides, which, in turn, are components of nucleotides, with all of these monomers constituting the basic building blocks of nucleic acids.

The ability of nucleobases to form base pairs and to stack one upon another leads directly to long-chain helical structures such as ribonucleic acid (RNA) and deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).

Pinner's 1885 structure for pyrimidine

Pyrimidine

Aromatic heterocyclic organic compound similar to pyridine.

Aromatic heterocyclic organic compound similar to pyridine.

Pinner's 1885 structure for pyrimidine
The pyrimidine nitrogen bases found in DNA and RNA.

In nucleic acids, three types of nucleobases are pyrimidine derivatives: cytosine (C), thymine (T), and uracil (U).

These hydrogen bonding modes are for classical Watson–Crick base pairing.

Chemical structure of uridine

Uracil

Chemical structure of uridine

Uracil (symbol U or Ura) is one of the four nucleobases in the nucleic acid RNA that are represented by the letters A, G, C and U. The others are adenine (A), cytosine (C), and guanine (G).

In RNA, uracil base-pairs with adenine and replaces thymine during DNA transcription.

Base pairing: Two base pairs are produced by four nucleotide monomers, nucleobases are in blue. Guanine (G) is paired with cytosine (C) via three hydrogen bonds, in red. Adenine (A) is paired with uracil (U) via two hydrogen bonds, in red.

Thymine

Base pairing: Two base pairs are produced by four nucleotide monomers, nucleobases are in blue. Guanine (G) is paired with cytosine (C) via three hydrogen bonds, in red. Adenine (A) is paired with uracil (U) via two hydrogen bonds, in red.

Thymine (symbol T or Thy) is one of the four nucleobases in the nucleic acid of DNA that are represented by the letters G–C–A–T.

The mutations caused by thymine deficiency appear to occur only at AT base pair sites in DNA and are often AT to GC transition mutations.

This nucleotide contains the five-carbon sugar deoxyribose (at center), a nucleobase called adenine (upper right), and one phosphate group (left). The deoxyribose sugar joined only to the nitrogenous base forms a <u title="Nucleotide">Deoxyribonucleoside called deoxyadenosine, whereas the whole structure along with the phosphate group is a <u title="Deoxyadenosine monophosphate" href="deoxyadenosine monophosphate">nucleotide, a constituent of DNA with the name deoxyadenosine monophosphate.

Nucleotide

Nucleotides are organic molecules consisting of a nucleoside and a phosphate.

Nucleotides are organic molecules consisting of a nucleoside and a phosphate.

This nucleotide contains the five-carbon sugar deoxyribose (at center), a nucleobase called adenine (upper right), and one phosphate group (left). The deoxyribose sugar joined only to the nitrogenous base forms a <u title="Nucleotide">Deoxyribonucleoside called deoxyadenosine, whereas the whole structure along with the phosphate group is a <u title="Deoxyadenosine monophosphate" href="deoxyadenosine monophosphate">nucleotide, a constituent of DNA with the name deoxyadenosine monophosphate.
Showing the arrangement of nucleotides within the structure of nucleic acids: At lower left, a monophosphate nucleotide; its nitrogenous base represents one side of a base-pair. At the upper right, four nucleotides form two base-pairs: thymine and adenine (connected by double hydrogen bonds) and guanine and cytosine (connected by triple hydrogen bonds). The individual nucleotide monomers are chain-joined at their sugar and phosphate molecules, forming two 'backbones' (a double helix) of nucleic acid, shown at upper left.
Structural elements of three nucleo tides —where one-, two- or three-phosphates are attached to the nucleo side (in yellow, blue, green) at center: 1st, the nucleotide termed as a nucleoside mono phosphate is formed by adding a phosphate (in red); 2nd, adding a second phosphate forms a nucleoside di phosphate; 3rd, adding a third phosphate results in a nucleoside tri phosphate. + The nitrogenous base (nucleobase) is indicated by "Base" and "glycosidic bond" (sugar bond). All five primary, or canonical, bases—the purines and pyrimidines—are sketched at right (in blue).
The synthesis of UMP. The color scheme is as follows: enzymes, <span style="color: rgb(219,155,36);">coenzymes, <span style="color: rgb(151,149,45);">substrate names , <span style="color: rgb(128,0,0);">inorganic molecules
The synthesis of IMP. The color scheme is as follows: enzymes, <span style="color: rgb(219,155,36);">coenzymes, <span style="color: rgb(151,149,45);">substrate names , <span style="color: rgb(227,13,196);">metal ions , <span style="color: rgb(128,0,0);">inorganic molecules

They serve as monomeric units of the nucleic acid polymers – deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and ribonucleic acid (RNA), both of which are essential biomolecules within all life-forms on Earth.

In a double helix, the two strands are oriented in opposite directions, which permits base pairing and complementarity between the base-pairs, all which is essential for replicating or transcribing the encoded information found in DNA.

A furanose (sugar-ring) molecule with carbon atoms labeled using standard notation. The 5′ is upstream; the 3′ is downstream. DNA and RNA are synthesized in the 5′-to-3′ direction.

Directionality (molecular biology)

A furanose (sugar-ring) molecule with carbon atoms labeled using standard notation. The 5′ is upstream; the 3′ is downstream. DNA and RNA are synthesized in the 5′-to-3′ direction.
In the DNA segment shown, the 5′ to 3′ directions are down the left strand and up the right strand
Phosphodiester bonds (circled) between nucleotides

Directionality, in molecular biology and biochemistry, is the end-to-end chemical orientation of a single strand of nucleic acid.

In a DNA double helix, the strands run in opposite directions to permit base pairing between them, which is essential for replication or transcription of the encoded information.