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What makes up the handrails of the helix of a DNA molecule?

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speadster | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 4, 2010 at 6:41 AM via web

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What makes up the handrails of the helix of a DNA molecule?

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 4, 2010 at 7:17 AM (Answer #1)

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The steps are made up of the base pairs: Adenine, Thymine, Guanine, and Cytosine.

The handrails are a phosphate deoxyribose backbone: sugars bonded by phosphate. The 2-deoxyribose sugar is a pentose, a 5-Carbon sugar. The sugars are joined by phosphate bonds form between the 3rd and 5th Carbon atoms of the sugar rings. These strands (handrails) are anti-parallel, meaning they run in opposite directions.

Hydrogen bonds attach the steps (base pairs) to the handrails. Each step can be joined to a sugar (nucleoside) or to a sugar and one or more phosphates (nucleotide).

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