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Lesson Flashcards: DNA Discovery and Structure

X-ray crystallography

A scientific technique in which X-rays are passed through crystalline substances and the resulting diffraction pattern is analyzed to infer the molecular structure of the crystal

Double helix

A twisted-ladder shape, specifically the shape of a molecule of DNA

Rosalind Franklin

A British scientist whose X-ray crystallography work was central to the understanding of the molecular structure of DNA

Pentose sugar

A sugar molecule that contains five atoms of carbon

DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid)

A nucleic acid molecule that carries the genetic instructions in living things and typically takes the form of a double helix


Polymers of nucleotides that make up nucleic acids

RNA (ribonucleic acid)

A single-stranded polynucleotide that results from the transcription of the genetic sequence of a gene, mediates protein synthesis, and can carry the genetic material in some viruses

Phosphodiester bond

The chemical bond that forms between a phosphate group and two sugar molecules in nucleic acids, such as DNA

Complementary base pairing

Specific rules of base pairing, which are critical to DNA replication and transcription, where adenine (A) binds to thymine (T) or uracil (U) in RNA, while guanine (G) binds to cytosine (C)

James Watson, Francis Crick, and Maurice Wilkins

Three British scientists who were awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine for the discovery concerning the double helix structure of DNA

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