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A polynucleotide molecule is an organic polymer molecule composed of nucleotide monomers covalently bonded in a chain. DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) and RNA (ribonucleic acid) are examples of polynucleotides with distinct biological function. The prefix poly comes from the ancient Greek πολυς (polys, many).

Polynucleotides in organisms

Polynucleotides occur naturally in all living organisms. The genome of an organism consists of complementary pairs of enormously long polynucleotides wound around each other in the form of a double helix. Polynucleotides have a variety of other roles in organisms.

Polynucleotides in scientific experiments

Polynucleotides are used in biochemical experiments such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or DNA sequencing. Polynucleotides are made artificially from oligonucleotides, smaller nucleotide chains with generally fewer than 30 subunits. An polymerase enzyme is used to extend the chain by adding nucleotides according to a pattern specified by the scientist.

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