science education resource

For K-12 Students • Educators • Homeschool Families • Naturalists

DNA - Structure and Function

DNA - Structure and Function

Facts About Your DNA
Inside every cell in your body there is a nucleus that contains your genetic material. That genetic material is deoxyribonucleic acid – DNA for short. Your DNA controls many of the things about you, but scientists still are not sure about the exact role of nature (your genes) and nurture (how you were raised) in making you who and what you are.


Here are some facts:

  1. Almost every cell in your body contains about 2.91 billion DNA.
  2. The DNA is divided into two sets of 23 chromosomes.
  3. You get one set of chromosomes from your mother and one set from your father.
  4. Every time your cells divide, the information is copied and divided into the new cells. Every time those chromosomes are passed on from mother or father, they are recombined to make unique chromosomes — YOUR chromosomes.


Nucleotides and the Structure of DNA

  1. Structurally, DNA is made up of nucleotides.
  2. A nucleotide is made up of a sugar, a phosphate and a base.
  3. Nucleotides hook together to make the sugar-phosphate backbone of every strand of DNA.
  4. The bases pair up with opposite matching bases on the other strand of DNA that makes up the “double-helix” structure.
  5. The pairs are linked by weak hydrogen bonds.
  6. There are four kinds of nucleotides or “base pairs” -- A for adenine, T is for thyamine, G is for guanine and C is for cytosine.  A always pairs with T. G always pairs with C.
  7. They are linked together (the two strands of DNA) and stacked like a ladder who’s sides spiral around each other into their famous double helix shape.

 

DNA - Structure and Function

Content Collaboration

Collaborative consultation on website genetics and genomics from Dr. Stephen M. Carleton, Assistant Professor, Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, SUNY Health Science Center at Brooklyn.

Exploringnature.org has more than 2,000 illustrated animals. Read about them, color them, label them, learn to draw them.