High School Biology : Understanding the Double Helix

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for High School Biology

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Example Questions

Example Question #33 : Dna

Who is credited for the discovery of the DNA double helix?

Possible Answers:

Rosalind Franklin and Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein

Rosalind Franklin

James Watson and Francis Crick

Isaac Newton

Correct answer:

James Watson and Francis Crick

Explanation:

Watson and Crick are credited with discovering the DNA double helix and built a model that explains the shape of DNA. Rosalind Franklin was the crystallographer who found the structure of DNA, but it was Watson and Crick who looked at this scan and realized the shape of DNA. Since Watson and Crick's shunning of Franklin from the discovery, the topic has become a point of controversy. Franklin had died by the time Watson and Crick were awarded the Nobel Prize for their work.

It is important to know that Watson and Crick are credited for the discovery of DNA structure, but selecting Franklin for the question is acceptable.

Example Question #31 : Dna, Rna, And Proteins

Which of the following is a characteristic of DNA?

Possible Answers:

Each DNA helix consists of two long chains of nucleotides

The ribose sugar is identical in all DNA nucleotides

Uracil pairs with adenine in DNA

Each DNA nucleotide has a nitrogen group surrounded by oxygen atoms

Correct answer:

Each DNA helix consists of two long chains of nucleotides

Explanation:

DNA is an organic compound that is made up of repeating subunits call nucleotides. Each DNA nucleotide is composed of three parts: a deoxyribose sugar molecule, a phosphate group, and a nitrogen-containing base. Phosphate groups are formed by a phosphorus atom bonded to four oxygen atoms. The deoxyribose sugar and the phosphate group are identical in all DNA nucleotides and form the backbone of the DNA. There are four possible nitrogenous bases: adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine. In double-stranded DNA, adenine pairs with thymine and guanine with cytosine via hydrogen bonding to create the DNA helix.

During transcription, uracil is added to RNA to complement adenine. DNA does not contain ribose sugar or uracil, but RNA does.

Example Question #35 : Dna

Which of the following scientists is credited with discovering the double-helix structure of DNA? 

I. James Watson

II. Francis Crick

III. Linus Pauling

Possible Answers:

I and II

I, II, and III

I only

I and III

Correct answer:

I and II

Explanation:

The double-helix structure of DNA was discovered by James Watson and Francis Crick, as well as Rosalind Franklin. They published an article titled "Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids: A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid" that described the three-dimensional structure of DNA.

Linus Pauling was the first scientist to propose a helical structure for DNA; however, he proposed that DNA was a triple helix. His work regarding DNA structure heavily influenced Watson and Crick who won the Nobel Prize for their model of DNA.

Example Question #36 : Dna

Which of the following is false regarding the DNA double-helix?

Possible Answers:

The major groove is the region of the double-helix where the two DNA backbones are closest to each other

Base pairing in the double-helix can be broken down by adding heat

A double-helix occurs in both double-stranded DNA and double-stranded RNA molecules

The backbone of the double-helix is held together by covalent bonds

Correct answer:

The major groove is the region of the double-helix where the two DNA backbones are closest to each other

Explanation:

The double-helix is the three dimensional structure of a DNA molecule. This structure arises due to the interaction (hydrogen bonding of base pairs) between the two strands of a DNA molecule. A double-helix can occur in any double-stranded molecule; therefore, a double-stranded RNA molecule can also form a double-helix if there is proper base pairing between the strands.

The base pairing in the double-helix involves hydrogen bonds, a type of noncovalent bond or intermolecular force. Since it is a noncovalent bond, hydrogen bonds between bases can be broken down by adding energy in the form of heat. Recall that the DNA backbone contains a series of pentose sugars that have a phosphate group attached to their 5' carbon. These pentose sugars in the DNA backbone are held together by covalent bonds called phosphodiester bonds; therefore, the DNA backbone is held together by covalent bonds.

One of the characteristics of double-helix is the presence of the major groove and the minor groove. The major groove is the region of the double-helix where the distance between the two DNA strands is largest. The minor groove, on the other hand, is the region of double-helix where the distance between the two strands is smallest.

Example Question #41 : Dna

Which of the following shows the correct pairing of DNA base pairs? 

Possible Answers:

A and C; G and T

A and T; G and C

A and U; G and C

T and U; G and C

A and G; T and C

Correct answer:

A and T; G and C

Explanation:

DNA is a double-stranded helix. The two sugar-phosphate backbones are connected by hydrogen bonds that for between nitrogenous bases. The DNA bases are adenine (A), thymine (T), cytosine (C), and guanine (G). In DNA, adenine always pairs with thyine and cytosine always pairs with guanine. These pairings occur because of geometry of the base,s allow hydrogen bonds to form only between the "right" pairs. Adenine and thymine will form two hydrogen bonds, whereas cytosine and guanine will form three hydrogen bonds. This hydrogen bonding brings stability to the DNA. 

Example Question #42 : Dna

The double-helix structure of DNA was discovered using X-ray crystallography (Rosalind Franklin) and elucidated by Watson and Crick. Before this discovery, it was previously known that DNA is comprised of four nucleotide bases: adenine, thymine, guanine, and cytosine. Adenine always binds to thymine, while guanine always binds to cytosine.

You analyze a double-helix and determine that 17% of the helix is made up of the nucleotide adenine (A). What percentage of the same helix must be comprised of the nucleotide guanine (G)?

Possible Answers:

Correct answer:

Explanation:

Nucleotides that bind together will always be present in equal amounts in a sample of DNA. This principle is known as Chargaff's rule. Essentially, the percentage of adenine will be equal to the percentage of thymine, while the percentage of guanine will be equal to the percentage of cytosine.

Together, all of the percentages must add up to 100%.

We know that the sample is 17% adenine, which means it is also 17% thymine.

We can use this equation to solve for the percentage of guanine.

Guanine and cytosine pair together, which means they will be present in equal amounts. To find the percentage of guanine, we can simply divide by 2.

You can check your answer if needed:

Example Question #43 : Dna

In complementary base pairing of DNA, guanine always pairs with __________ and adenine always pairs with __________.

Possible Answers:

cytosine . . . thymine

guanine . . . adenine

thymine . . . cytosine

cytosine . . . uracil

Correct answer:

cytosine . . . thymine

Explanation:

The four nitrogenous bases of DNA are thymine, adenine, guanine, and cytosine. Guanine and cytosine are bound together by three hydrogen bonds; whereas, adenine and thymine are bound together by two hydrogen bonds. This is known as complementary base pairing. In RNA, the nucleotide thymine is replaced by the nucleotide uracil.

Example Question #44 : Dna

Which type of bond is responsible for holding complementary base pairs together?

Possible Answers:

Ionic bond

Single covalent bond

Hydrogen bond

Double covalent bond

Correct answer:

Hydrogen bond

Explanation:

DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) is a chain of two strands of nucleotide that are linked to one another through hydrogen bonding and arranged into a structure known as a double-helix. Nucleotides are molecular components of DNA that are composed of a deoxyribose sugar, a nitrogenous base, and a phosphate group. The backbone of DNA consists of phosphodiester bonds made up of interchanging phosphate groups and deoxyribose sugars. The four nitrogenous bases of DNA are thymine, adenine, guanine, and cytosine. Guanine and cytosine are bonded together by three hydrogen bonds; whereas, adenine and thymine are bonded together by two hydrogen bonds. This is known as complementary base pairing. One strand of the DNA double helix will be in a 5’  3’ direction in relation to the –OH group on the deoxyribose sugar. The other strand is oriented in the 3’  5’ direction.

Example Question #45 : Dna

The orientation of the two strands of the DNA molecule are considered to be __________.

Possible Answers:

transverse

antiparallel

perpendicular

parallel

Correct answer:

antiparallel

Explanation:

DNA is a chain of two strands of nucleotides that are linked to one another through hydrogen bonds and arranged into a structure known as a double-helix. Nucleotides are molecular components of DNA that are composed of a deoxyribose sugar, a nitrogenous base, and a phosphate group. The backbone of DNA consists of phosphodiester bonds made up of interchanging phosphate groups and deoxyribose sugars. The four nitrogenous bases of DNA are thymine, adenine, guanine, and cytosine. Guanine and cytosine are bound together by three hydrogen bonds; whereas, adenine and thymine are bound together by two hydrogen bonds. This is known as complementary base pairing. One strand of the DNA double helix will be in a 5’  3’ direction in relation to the  group on the deoxyribose sugar. The other strand is oriented in the 3’  5’ direction. This is why DNA is considered antiparallel.

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