DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) is a molecule that contains all the genetic data for every living organism. It holds the information necessary for an organism to develop, survive, and reproduce. DNA is able to produce proteins, which are responsible for much of the work in the body.
Found within cells, DNA tightly organizes itself into chromosomes. These chromosomes are duplicated during cell division, ensuring that each cell has its own set of chromosomes. DNA is also found in the cell nucleus, which is referred to as nuclear DNA. DNA is passed from parents to offspring during reproduction, where the offspring receives one half of their DNA from each parent.
DNA is made up of nucleotides that are linked into chains of phosphate, sugar, and nitrogen. These chains of nucleotides is referred to as a DNA sequence. Each DNA sequence that also has instructions on how to make a protein is referred to as a gene. The entire human genome consists of about 3 billion bases and about 20,000 genes on 23 pairs of chromosomes.
DNA is able to replicate, which is crucial because new cells need to have a copy of the DNA present in the old cell.