Nucleic Acids in Human Body Systems

By Jacquelyn Jeanty
Nucleic Acid Functions
Ghutchis/flickr.com -- a DNA helix

The nucleic acids most prominent within the human body system are DNA and RNA. These materials are responsible for maintaining and reproducing the cells that make up the body. They are involved in a number of processes which work to provide the materials needed for cell repair and metabolism processes.

Identification

The DNA and RNA molecules within each cell are the body's most essential nucleic acid materials. Both types of molecules are responsible for generating the materials needed to sustain cell life. Energy production, cell metabolism and cell reproduction processes are all directed by the information contained inside these nucleic acids. These materials are structured in such a way that all the information needed to carry out everyday cell functions and cell repair are contained inside these molecules.

DNA

DNA molecules, also known as deoxyribonucleic acid, contain and store the cell's genetic information (genes and chromosomes) inside the nucleus of the cell. These molecules intertwine to form a helix structure that's designed to ensure copies of this genetic material are retained in the case of cell damage. The DNA helix is made up of materials called nucleotides. The nucleotides work to join the two DNA strands of the helix. Adenosine, guanosine, cytosine and thymidine are the nucleotides present in DNA molecules. The sequence in which they appear determines the genetic coding for the cell.

RNA

RNA molecules, also known as ribonucleic acid, are responsible for transferring the genetic information received from DNA molecules to other areas of the cell. RNA materials then work to coordinate the chemical reactions involved in manufacturing the protein needed to build and repair the cell. RNA materials are manufactured by the DNA nucleic acids. This process is carried out during the DNA reproduction process in which corresponding RNA strand molecules are produced along with duplicate DNA strands.

Nucleotides

As nucleotides are needed to build DNA and RNA molecules, they play an essential role in manufacturing new cells, repairing damaged cells and maintaining the life of the human body as a whole. While DNA molecules make use of the adenosine, guanosine, and thymidine nucleotides, RNA molecules are manufactured using uradine in the place of thymidine. Nucleotides appear in pairs along the nucleic acid strand. Adenosine and guanosine are called purine nucleotides and always appear in pairs within the DNA helix. Cytosine, thymidine and uradine are called pyrimidine nucleotides, and always appear in pairs along the DNA and RNA molecule strands.

DNA Repair

Cell metabolism functions can generate byproduct materials that may be harmful to the genetic structures of the cell. Nutrient deficiencies and free radical materials can potentially breakdown the structure of DNA nucleic acids. DNA molecules are equipped to carry out a series of chemical reactions in which damaged portions of the DNA strand can be repaired. These repair processes are carried out by specialized enzymes which begin to chemically reconstruct breaks that appear within the nucleotide components that make up the strands.

About the Author

Jacquelyn Jeanty has worked as a freelance writer since 2008. Her work appears at various websites. Her specialty areas include health, home and garden, Christianity and personal development. Jeanty holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Purdue University.