14.21: What are nucleic acids? Mention their two important functions.

Nucleic acids are biomolecules found in the nuclei of all living cells, as one of the constituents of chromosomes. There are mainly two types of nucleic acids −

deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and ribonucleic acid (RNA). Nucleic acids are also known as polynucleotides as they are long-chain polymers of nucleotides.

Two main functions of nucleic acids are:

(i) DNA is responsible for the transmission of inherent characters from one generation to the next. This process of transmission is called heredity.

(ii) Nucleic acids (both DNA and RNA) are responsible for protein synthesis in a cell. Even though the proteins are actually synthesised by the various RNA molecules in a cell, the message for the synthesis of a particular protein is present in DNA.