deoxyribonucleic acid abbr., DNA (rus. дезоксирибонуклеиновая кислота otherwise дезоксирибонуклеиновая кислота abbr., ДНК) — polynucleotide consisting of covalently bonded deoxyribonucleotide units that stores, transmits (from generation to generation) and implements the genetic program of development and functioning of a living organism.


DNA is formed by two polynucleotide strands twisted together to form a double helix. Each strand is built of repeating blocks of phosphoric acid residue and sugar 2-deoxyribose. One of four nitrogenous bases – adenine, thymine, guanine and cytosine – is attached to deoxyribose in each block. In a DNA molecule the nitrogenous bases of one strand are paired with the nitrogenous bases of the other strand in strict order: adenine with thymine, guanine with cytosine. This interaction of strands is called “complementary interaction”, and the information about the structure of one DNA strand can always be restored from its complementary pair. The genetic code of an organism is recorded in the DNA base sequence, and the principle of complementarity allows genetic information to be copied and passed on to descendants. In eukaryotic cells the DNA is located in chromosomes of the cell nucleus, and in some cellular organelles (mitochondria and plastids). In prokaryotes (bacteria and archaea) a circular or linear DNA molecule is attached to the inside of the cell membrane. Prokaryotes and lower eukaryotes (e.g. yeast) contain plasmids (self-contained small circular DNA molecules). Single-or double-stranded DNA molecules can form the genome of DNA-containing viruses. In 1962 James Watson, Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material.

DNA has found application in nanobiotechnology as an organic polymer. For example, DNA double helices were wound together and arranged into nanostructures of different shapes and functions (so-called DNA origami, see biomimetic nanomaterials).


DNA duplex.
DNA duplex.


  • Naroditsky Boris S.
  • Shirinsky Vladimir P.
  • Nesterenko Lyudmila N.


  1. Alberts B., Johnson A., Lewis J. et al. Molecular Biology of the Cell. 4th ed. — N.Y.: Garland Publishing, 2002. — 265 p.
  2. B. Glick, J. Pasternak. Molecular Biotechnology: Principles and Applications of Recombinant DNA. — 3rd ed. Sigma Publishing, 2003, 784 pp.
  3. Anthony R. Rees, Michael J. E. Sternberg, From Cells to Atoms: An Illustrated Introduction to Molecular Biology. Oxford: Blackwell Science Inc, 1984.
  4. Watson J .D., Crick F.H.C. Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids: A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid // Nature. 1953. V. 171. P. 737–738.

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