|deoxyribonucleic acid or desoxyribonucleic acid (diːˌɒksɪˌraɪbəʊnjuːˈkleɪɪk)|
|the full name for DNA|
|desoxyribonucleic acid or desoxyribonucleic acid|
deoxyribonucleic acid de·ox·y·ri·bo·nu·cle·ic acid (dē-ŏk'sē-rī'bō-nōō-klē'ĭk, -klā'-, -nyōō-)
The molecule that carries genetic information in all living systems (see genetic code). The DNA molecule is formed in the shape of a double helix from a great number of smaller molecules (see nucleotides). The workings of the DNA molecule provide the most fundamental explanation of the laws of genetics.
DNA acts in three important way. First, when a cell divides, the DNA uncoils, and each strand creates a new partner from the surrounding material — a process called replication. The two cells that result from the cell division have the same DNA as the original (see mitosis). Second, in sexual reproduction, each parent contributes one of the two strands in the DNA of the offspring. Third, inside the cell, the DNA governs the production of proteins and other molecules essential to cell function.