This page, looking at the structure of DNA, is the first in a sequence of pages leading on to how DNA replicates (makes copies of) itself, and then to how information stored in DNA is used to make protein molecules. Chemistry students at UK A level (or its various equivalents) should not waste time on this.
These days, most people know about DNA as a complex molecule which carries the genetic code.
I'm going to start with a diagram of the whole structure, and then take it apart to see how it all fits together. The only other thing you need to know about deoxyribose (or ribose, for that matter) is how the carbon atoms in the ring are numbered.
The carbon atom to the right of the oxygen as we have drawn the ring is given the number 1, and then you work around to the carbon on the CH2OH side group which is number 5. The final piece that we need to add to this structure before we can build a DNA strand is one of four complicated organic bases. The nitrogen and hydrogen atoms shown in blue on each molecule show where these molecules join on to the deoxyribose.
The phosphate group on one nucleotide links to the 3' carbon atom on the sugar of another one.


To take a simpler example, if you draw a structural formula for CH2Cl2 using simple bond notation, you could equally well draw the chlorine atoms at right angles to each other or opposite each other.
There is only one possible point of confusion here - and that relates to how the phosphate group, P, is attached to the sugar ring. By convention, if you draw lines like this, there is a carbon atom where these two lines join. If the top of this segment was the end of the chain, then the phosphate group would have an -OH group attached to the spare bond rather than another sugar ring.
Similarly, if the bottom of this segment of chain was the end, then the spare bond at the bottom would also be to an -OH group on the deoxyribose ring. If you look at this carefully, you will see that an adenine on one chain is always paired with a thymine on the second chain. That is because these particular pairs fit exactly to form very effective hydrogen bonds with each other. Notice that the two chains run in opposite directions, and the right-hand chain is essentially upside-down. If you followed the left-hand chain to its very end at the top, you would have a phosphate group attached to the 5' carbon in the deoxyribose ring.


This 5' and 3' notation becomes important when we start talking about the genetic code and genes.
It is also important when we take a very simplified look at how DNA makes copies of itself on the next page . GoGraph allows you to download affordable stock photography, illustrations, vector clip art and royalty-free footage. Drawing - Chemical strucure of a molecule of oxytocin, the so called cuddle or love hormone. GoGraph has the stock image, royalty free photo, stock photograph, graphic or picture that you need for as little as 5 dollars.
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