Nucleic Acid Functions in the Body

DNA and RNA are considered as the essential nucleic acids. Besides, ATP, i.e., adenosine triphosphate, is also a nucleic acid.

These are vital molecules present in all the living cells on the earth. Interestingly, they were also found to be present in space, as per NASA. These nucleic acids are involved in three basic processes in our body: replication, transcription, and translation. However, they do have other functions as well, like

  1. Carrying hereditary information
  2. Act as an energy source.
  3. Making other nucleic acids and proteins
  4. Supporting cell division
  5. Control cell metabolism
  6. Stimulates apoptosis
  7. Design the proteins.
  8. Enzymatic action
  9. Modify by mutation to adapt to the environment.
Nucleic Acid FUNCTIONS

You might have already known the involvement of nucleic acids in cell division, mRNA formation, and protein synthesis from your biochemistry subject. But these nucleic acids are also involved in other functions.

1. DNA carries the hereditary information and codes for proteins.

DNA is the memory house in an organism.

Though the person does not have the memory of his forefathers, the DNA has it, so he attains their physical features.

This DNA helps to replicate the features from one generation to another.

2. Act as an energy source.

ATP is the energy-carrying molecule that can release energy from it phosphate bonds for different functions and enzymatic reactions.

Each ATP can release an energy of

3. mRNA formation

DNA makes RNA by transcription process in the nucleus. This RNA makes proteins by translation.

These proteins confer specific characteristics to the organism. They are used as building blocks of the body and help shape the body’s tissues and organs.

4. In cell division

Cell division is a process where two identical daughter cells are formed from one mother’s cells.

The mother cells DNA nucleic acid undergoes replication, creating an identical copy of DNA.

This leads to the formation of a pair of DNA before or after mitosis. During cell division, each DNA moves up to each living daughter cell.

Thus, it also helps to preserve genetic information.

5. Metabolism and communication

DNA is also the seat of communication and metabolism.

They act as nuclear receptors, and few drugs and hormones act on these receptors and bring about the necessary changes in the cells and in the body.

6. Apoptosis

Apoptosis is a natural cell death process. This is aimed at keeping the body healthy by destroying abnormal cells.

During the synthesis of new DNA, if there is an abnormal result, the cell undergoes apoptotic cell death. DNA triggers this cell death.

7. Protein synthesis

Proteins have a fixed and specific structure that can vary from species to species. The particular structure of the protein is necessary for normal body physiology.

This protein with a definite structure is created by mRNA transcription. Thus, the RNA codes for a protein.

8. Enzymatic action

RNA acts as an enzyme in some cellular reactions. These are called ribozymes.

These ribozymes are involved in the cleavage and joining of RNA and DNA molecules when required.

9. Genetic mutation

Nucleic acids, especially DNA, acquire new traits from other cells. This happens due to the transfer of DNA from a healthy one. This way, those characteristics that help the animal sustain adverse conditions are transmitted across cells.

Further nucleic acids help in the diagnosis of disease and predict the diseases in future generations from current parents. They are also useful to generate biotechnological products.


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