nucleic acid (nu-kle´ik, -kla´ik)
A family of macromolecules, of molecular masses ranging upward from 25,000, found in the chromosomes, nucleoli, mitochondria, and cytoplasm of all cells, and in viruses; in complexes with proteins, they are called nucleoproteins. On hydrolysis they yield purines, pyrimidines, phosphoric acid, and a pentose, either d-ribose or d-deoxyribose; from the last, the n.a.'s derive their more specific names, ribonucleic acid and deoxyribonucleic acid. N.a.'s are linear (i.e., unbranched) chains of nucleotides in which the 5´-phosphoric group of each one is esterified with the 3´-hydroxyl of the adjoining nucleotide.
infectious n.a. viral n.a. that can infect cells and bring about the production of viruses.
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