(deoxyribonucleic acid; formerly spelt desoxyribonucleic acid)  The long chain of molecules in most cells that carries the genetic message and controls all cellular functions in most forms of life. The information-carrying genetic material that comprises the genes. DNA is a macro-molecule composed of a long chain of deoxyribonucleotides joined by phospho-diester linkages. Each deoxyribonucleotide contains a phosphate group, the five-carbon sugar 2-deoxribose, and a nitrogen-containing base. The genetic material of most organisms and organelles so far examined is double-stranded DNA; a number of viral genomes consist of single-stranded DNA or single-or double-stranded RNA. In double-stranded DNA, the two strands run in opposite (anti-parallel) directions and are coiled round one another in a double helix. Purine bases on one strand specifically hydrogen bond with pyrimidine bases on the other strand, according to the Watson-Crick rules (A pairs with T; G pairs with C). Hence a constant width for the double helix of 20 Å (2.0 nm) is maintained. In the B-form, DNA adopts a right-handed helical conformation, with each chain making a complete turn every 34 Å (3.4 nm), or once every ten bases. See alsomtDNA.

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