Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne DNA Molecular Weight
Name: Vanessa S.
Status: Other
Age: 19
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: August 2003


Question:
What is the molecular weight of DNA? Has it even been calculated?



Replies:
It would simply depend on the number of nitrogen bases (since the phosphates and sugars are a constant) and therefore the length of the DNA in question.

Peter Faletra


DNA is comprised of base pairs and DNA from different life forms is made up of different numbers of bases. a mole of one base weighs 325 g. We have about 3 x 10e9 bp for each copy of our DNA [two total, one from each parent] There are about 6 picograms of DNA/cell

Jeannine M. Durdik


Vanessa,
This has been determined, and you can do the calculation yourself with some basic information.

DNA is made up of four building blocks, called nucleotides. The molecular weights of these four nucleotides (A,C,G,T) are not identical, so in routine work we usually average the molecular weights of all four and go with 330 daltons per nucleotide in DNA (=330 grams/mole of individual nucleotides). Since DNA is double stranded, i.e., one nucleotide pairs with a nucleotide on the opposing strand, then we can say the average molecular weight of a nucleotide PAIR in DNA is 660 daltons. Now you just have to multiply 660 daltons by the length of DNA you are working with. For example, let us say a bacterial cell has a million (10E6) nucleotide pairs per cell. So, 660 daltons/nucleotide pair times 1,000,000 nucleotide pairs equals the DNA's molecular weight: 660 million daltons, or 6.6 x 10E8 daltons). Mammals have about 1000 times more than this per cell.

Paul Mahoney, PhD



Click here to return to the Molecular Biology Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (help@newton.dep.anl.gov), or at Argonne's Educational Programs

NEWTON AND ASK A SCIENTIST
Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory