SAT OG 2016 Reading - Test 1 reading 3

Questions 22-31 are based on the following

This passage is adapted from J. D. Watson and F. H. C. Crick, “Genetical Implications of the Structure of Deoxyribonucleic Acid.” ©1953 by Nature Publishing Group. Watson and Crick deduced the structure of DNA using evidence from Rosalind Franklin and R. G. Gosling’s X-ray crystallography diagrams of DNA and from Erwin Chargaff’s data on the base composition of DNA.

The chemical formula of deoxyribonucleic acid

(DNA) is now well established. The molecule is a

very long chain, the backbone of which consists of a
regular alternation of sugar and phosphate groups.
5 To each sugar is attached a nitrogenous base, which

can be of four different types. Two of the possible

bases—adenine and guanine—are purines, and the

other two—thymine and cytosine—are pyrimidines.

So far as is known, the sequence of bases along the
10 chain is irregular. The monomer unit, consisting of

phosphate, sugar and base, is known as a nucleotide.
The first feature of our structure which is of

biological interest is that it consists not of one chain,

but of two. These two chains are both coiled around
15 a common fiber axis. It has often been assumed that

since there was only one chain in the chemical

formula there would only be one in the structural

unit. However, the density, taken with the X-ray

evidence, suggests very strongly that there are two.
20 The other biologically important feature is the

manner in which the two chains are held together.

This is done by hydrogen bonds between the bases.

The bases are joined together in pairs, a single base

from one chain being hydrogen-bonded to a single
25 base from the other. The important point is that only

certain pairs of bases will fit into the structure.

One member of a pair must be a purine and the other

a pyrimidine in order to bridge between the two

chains. If a pair consisted of two purines, for
30 example, there would not be room for it.
We believe that the bases will be present almost

entirely in their most probable forms. If this is true,

the conditions for forming hydrogen bonds are more

restrictive, and the only pairs of bases possible are:
35 adenine with thymine, and guanine with cytosine.

Adenine, for example, can occur on either chain; but

when it does, its partner on the other chain must

always be thymine.
The phosphate-sugar backbone of our model is
40 completely regular, but any sequence of the pairs of

bases can fit into the structure. It follows that in a

long molecule many different permutations are

possible, and it therefore seems likely that the precise

sequence of bases is the code which carries the
45 genetical information. If the actual order of the bases

on one of the pair of chains were given, one could

write down the exact order of the bases on the other

one, because of the specific pairing. Thus one chain

is, as it were, the complement of the other, and it is
50 this feature which suggests how the deoxyribonucleic

acid molecule might duplicate itself.

Question 22 The authors use the word “backbone” in line 3 and line 39 to indicate that