nucleotides

[ (nooh-klee-uh-teyedz) ]

The molecules that form the basic modular structure of the double helix of the DNA molecule. A nucleotide consists of three molecules — a sugar, a phosphate group, and a molecule called a base. If the double helix is a twisted ladder, the sugar and phosphates form the sides of the ladder and pairs of bases form the rungs. There are four different bases, usually abbreviated A, C, G, and T for adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine). The order of bases in DNA determines the genetic code.

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.