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What is the structure of a DNA molecule?


A molecule of DNA is double-stranded. The molecule has the shape of a double helix.

The DNA molecule consists of two complementary strands oriented in an anti-parallel fashion. Each strand is composed of nucleotides. A nucleotide consists of a base (a purine or pyrimidine), a sugar (between the other two components) named deoxyribose, and a phosphate group. Nucleotides are linked to each other via phosphodiester bonds, forming a sugar-phosphate backbone to each strand.

The base of each nucleotide projects into the interior cavity of the helix. Each base is opposite another base: adenine (a purine) is always paired with thymine (a pyrimidine), and guanine (purine) with cytosine (pyrimidine); this phenomenon is called complementary base pairing.

Each nucleotide forms hydrogen bonds with its complementary base on the other strand. Two hydrogen bonds form between adenine and thymine; three hydrogen bonds form between guanine and cytosine.

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