9.8 Nature of Bond Linking Monomers in a Polymer

In a polypeptide or a protein, amino acids are linked by a peptide bond which is formed when the carboxyl (-COOH) group of one amino acid reacts with the amino (-NH2) group of the next amino acid with the elimination of a water moiety (the process is called dehydration).

In a polysaccharide the individual monosaccharides are linked by a glycosidic bond. This bond is also formed by dehydration. This bond is formed between two carbon atoms of two adjacent monosaccharides.

In a nucleic acid a phosphate moiety links the 3’-carbon of one sugar of one nucleotide to the 5’-carbon of the sugar of the succeeding nucleotide. The bond between the phosphate and hydroxyl group of sugar is an ester bond. As there is one such ester bond on either side, it is called phosphodiester bond.

Nucleic acids exhibit a wide variety of secondary structures. For example, one of the secondary structures exhibited by DNA is the famous Watson-Crick model. This model says that DNA exists as a double helix.

The two strands of polynucleotides are antiparallel i.e., run in the opposite direction. The backbone is formed by the sugar-phosphate-sugar chain. The nitrogen bases are projected more or less perpendicular to this backbone but face inside. A and G of one strand compulsorily base pairs with T and C, respectively, on the other strand.

There are two hydrogen bonds between A and T. There are three hydrogen bonds between G and C. Each strand appears like a helical staircase. Each step of ascent is represented by a pair of bases. At each step of ascent, the strand turns 36°.

One full turn of the helical strand would involve ten steps or ten base pairs. Attempt drawing a line diagram. The pitch would be 34Å. The rise per base pair would be 3.4Å. This form of DNA with the above mentioned salient features is called B-DNA. In higher classes, you will be told that there are more than a dozen forms of DNA named after English alphabets with unique structural features.

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