Nucleic Acid Metabolism
The human body’s most basic metabolism processes take place at the cellular level. Nucleic acids hold the fundamental blueprints on how these processes are run. The cellular level regulates energy production, reproductive processes and metabolism processes. Each cell type follows a step-by-step blueprint through which the various organs and tissues of the body are maintained, and supported.
The primary nucleic acids within the body are DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) and RNA (ribonucleic acid). Nucleic acid metabolism is the process in which DNA and RNA molecules are manufactured. These molecules are made up of components called nucleotides. Each nucleotide is a binding agent that holds nucleic acids together. DNA’s primary role within the metabolism process is to manufacture duplicates of itself, and create corresponding RNA strands that carry out the instructions contained within the DNA.
Nucleotides appear in a chain formation within the DNA molecule. Their names are adenosine, guanosine, thymidine and uradine. Each nucleotide is made out of a sugar, a phosphates and a nitrogen base. The order in which these materials appear in a DNA strand determines the genetic code for a particular cell. Nucleic acid metabolism occurs when the DNA strand begins the process of duplicating its coding to create a new strand. To do this, the DNA helix splits in half, and manufactures a duplicate helix by using the split strands as templates.
Nucleic acid metabolism processes involve using cell nutrients to build and repair cell structures. This process is called anabolism. The fuel, or energy needed by the cell to carry out these functions is also metabolized within the cell. This process is called catabolism. Both of these processes follow the steps as mapped out within the cell’s DNA molecules, while RNA molecules are the ones that actually carry out these processes within the cell. The steps involved are made up of metabolic pathways, which are triggered by enzyme reactions.
Whenever a DNA nucleic acid molecule duplicates itself, it creates a corresponding RNA molecule. When this happens, the genetic code for the cell is transcribed into actionable steps by the newly created RNA molecule. To do this, three types of RNA molecules are manufactured — messenger RNA(mRNA), ribosomal RNA (rRNA) and transfer RNA (tRNA). Messenger RNA carry the genetic information to ribosome structures located throughout the cell. Ribosomal RNA decodes the genetic information and transcribes it into actionable steps. Transfer RNA assembles the amino acids, or enzymes needed to regulate the cell’s metabolism processes.