28 • Why This Chapter?
Nucleic acids are the last of the four major classes of biomolecules we’ll consider. So much has been written and spoken about DNA in the media that the basics of DNA replication and transcription are probably known to you. Thus, we’ll move fairly quickly through the fundamentals and then look more closely at the chemical details of DNA sequencing, synthesis, and metabolism. This field is moving rapidly, and there’s a lot you may not be familiar with.
The nucleic acids, deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and ribonucleic acid (RNA), are the chemical carriers of a cell’s genetic information. Coded in a cell’s DNA is the information that determines the nature of the cell, controls its growth and division, and directs biosynthesis of the enzymes and other proteins required for cellular functions.
In addition to nucleic acids themselves, nucleic acid derivatives such as ATP are involved as phosphorylating agents in many biochemical pathways, and several important coenzymes, including NAD+, FAD, and coenzyme A, have nucleic acid components. See Table 26.3 for their structures.