Nucleic Acid (Encyclopedia of Science)
A nucleic acid is a complex organic compound found in all living organisms. Nucleic acids were discovered in 1869 by the Swiss biochemist Johann Friedrich Miescher (1844895). Miescher discovered the presence of an unusual organic compound in the nuclei of cells and gave that compound the name nuclein. The compound was unusual because it contained both nitrogen and phosphorus, in addition to carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Nuclein was one of the first organic compounds to have been discovered that contained this combination of elements. Although later research showed that various forms of nuclein occurred in other parts of the cell, the name remained in the modified form by which it is known today: nucleic acid.
Structure of nucleic acids
Nucleic acids are polymers, very large molecules that consist of much smaller units repeated many times over and over again. The small units of which polymers are made are known as monomers. In the case of nucleic acid, the monomers are called nucleotides.
(The entire section is 1802 words.)
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