nucleic acid

nu·​cle·​ic acid | \nu̇-ˈklē-ik-, -ˈklā-, nyu̇- \

Definition of nucleic acid 

: any of various complex organic acids (such as DNA or RNA) that are composed of nucleotide chains

Examples of nucleic acid in a Sentence

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The second was molecular phylogenetics, which allows scientists to compare nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) among different species and thus ascertain evolutionary relationships among them. David P. Barash, WSJ, "‘The Tangled Tree’ Review: From Tiny Seeds," 9 Aug. 2018 In 2016, the office issued a Cas9 patent for detecting nucleic acids to Caribou Biosciences in Berkeley, which was co-founded by Doudna as a Crispr tool developer and has also filed Cas12a patents of its own. Megan Molteni, WIRED, "A New Startup Wants to Use Crispr to Diagnose Disease," 26 Apr. 2018 Each technique involves the application of a nucleic acid, specifically DNA or RNA. Andrea Rumbaugh, Houston Chronicle, "World's largest dedicated cell-and-gene-therapy manufacturing facility opens in Pearland," 10 Apr. 2018 The technique as proposed would work because nucleic acids like DNA are promiscuous. Paul Voosen, Science | AAAS, "Want to discover truly alien life? Pack a genome sequencer," 23 Mar. 2018 The tools of molecular biology, including nucleic acid sequencing, developed through the latter half of the 20th century, finally helped open the vault on the origins of the 1918 pandemic. Jonathan Runstadler, Scientific American, "Influenza's Wild Origins in the Animals around Us," 11 Mar. 2018 Nucleobases, which are the protein building blocks of nucleic acids including RNA and DNA, could have been transported to Earth in abundance by impacting meteorites that hit pools around the globe. Jay Bennett, Popular Mechanics, "New Study Suggests Life Started on Earth Much Earlier Than Thought," 2 Oct. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'nucleic acid.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of nucleic acid

1892, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for nucleic acid

from their occurrence in cell nuclei

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Last Updated

13 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for nucleic acid

The first known use of nucleic acid was in 1892

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nucleic acid


English Language Learners Definition of nucleic acid

: any of various acids (such as DNA or RNA) that are found in living cells

nucleic acid

nu·​cle·​ic acid | \n(y)u̇-ˌklē-ik-, -ˌklā- \

Medical Definition of nucleic acid 

: any of various acids (as an RNA or a DNA) composed of nucleotide chains

More from Merriam-Webster on nucleic acid Encyclopedia article about nucleic acid

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a nest or breeding place

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