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A hydrogen bond is the electromagnetic attractive interaction of a polar hydrogen atom in a molecule or chemical group and anelectronegative atom, such as nitrogen, oxygen or fluorine, from another molecule or chemical group. Why does a hydrogen bond occur? In molecules containing N-H, O-H or F-H bonds, the large difference in electronegativity between the H atom and the N, O or F atom leads to a highly polar covalent bond (i.e., a bond dipole). The electronegativities are listed below. Element electronegativity value H N O F 2.1 3.0 3.5 4.1

Because of the difference in electronegativity, the H atom bears a large partial positive charge and the N, O or F atom bears a large partial negative charge. Since the hydrogen donor is strongly electronegative, it pulls the covalently bonded electron pair closer to its nucleus, and away from the hydrogen atom. The hydrogen atom is then left with a partial positive charge, creating a dipole-dipole attraction between the hydrogen atom bonded to the donor, and the lone electron pair on the accepton. This results in a hydrogen bond.

Electrostatic attraction between hydrogen atoms bonded to small, strongly electronegative atoms (N, O and F) and the lone pair electrons on these electronegative atoms.

Hydrogen bond in gaseous, liquid and solid states Hydrogen bond occurs in the gaseous, liquid or solid states, for example, hydrogen bond occurs in dimer of water, (H2O) such as shown in figure below.

In the liquid state, for example hydrogen bonds occur in water such as shown in the figure. In liquid water molecule forms four hydrogen bonds with its four surrounding water molecules. Two hydrogen bonds are formed through two hydrogen atoms and two others formed through two its lone pair.

In the solid state, for examples hydrogen occurs in ice. In ice each molecule forms four hydrogen bonds with its four surrounding water molecules. The spatial requirements of hydrogen bonds in ice determine the structure of ice and lead to the well known fact that the ice is less dense than liquid water. This is because the structure of ice is rather open because of many cavities formed by interlocking six-membered rings as result of an extensive networkof hydrogen bonds. After melting, the orderly arrangement of the hydrogen bonds is destroyed, allowing the water molecules to move close together. This causes volume of liquid water is smaller than that of ice.

DNA is one of the nucleic acids, information-containing molecules in the cell (ribonucleic acid, or RNA, is the other nucleic acid). DNA is found in the nucleus of every human cell. (See the sidebar at the bottom of the page for more about RNA and different types of cells). The information in DNA:

guides the cell (along with RNA) in making new proteins that determine all of our biological traits

gets passed (copied) from one generation to the next The key to all of these functions is found in the molecular structure of DNA, as described by Watson and Crick. Although it may look complicated, the DNA in a cell is really just a pattern made up of four different parts called nucleotides. Imagine a set of blocks that has only four shapes, or an alphabet that has only four letters. DNA is a long string of these blocks or letters. Each nucleotide consists of a sugar (deoxyribose) bound on one side to a phosphate group and bound on the other side to a nitrogenous base.

There are two classes of nitrogen bases called purines (double-ringed structures) and pyrimidines (single-ringed structures). The four bases in DNA's alphabet are:

adenine (A) - a purine cytosine(C) - a pyrimidine guanine (G) - a purine thymine (T) - a pyrimidine

Watson and Crick discovered that DNA had two sides, or strands, and that these strands were twisted together like a twisted ladder -- the double helix. The sides of the ladder comprise the sugar-phosphate portions of adjacent nucleotides bonded together. The phosphate of one nucleotide is covalently bound (a bond in which one or more pairs of electrons are shared by two atoms) to the sugar of the next nucleotide. The hydrogen bonds between phosphates cause the DNA strand to twist. The nitrogenous bases point inward on the ladder and form pairs with bases on the other side, like rungs. Each base pair is formed from two complementary

nucleotides (purine with pyrimidine) bound together by hydrogen bonds. The base pairs in DNA areadenine with thymine andcytosine with guanine.

DNA has a spiral staircase-like structure. The steps are formed by the nitrogen bases of the nucleotides where adenine pairs with thymine and cytosine with guanine. Photo courtesy U.S. National Library of Medicine In the next section we'll find out how long DNA strands fit inside a tiny cell.