Q:

What makes up a nucleotide?

A:

Quick Answer

Nucleotides are made up of a phosphate group, a nitrogen base and a pentose sugar. These structural units serve as the fundamental building blocks of nucleic acids, such as deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and ribonucleic acid (RNA).

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Full Answer

DNA and RNA are named after the type of sugar molecule present in their nucleotides. The five-carbon sugar component in DNA is called deoxyribose, while the pentose sugar in RNA is referred to as ribose.

In a DNA nucleotide, the nitrogen-containing base may be one of four types: adenine, thymine, cytosine and guanine. Adenine and guanine, which are characterized by their double-ring configuration, are classified as purine bases. Cytosine and thymine, which contain a single ring structure, are categorized as pyrimidine bases. In RNA, thymine is replaced with uracil.

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