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Within eukaryotic cells DNA is organized into long structures called chromosomes.
During cell division these chromosomes are duplicated in the process of DNA replication, providing each cell its own complete set of chromosomes.
In a double helix, the direction of the nucleotides in one strand is opposite to their direction in the other strand: the strands are antiparallel.
The nucleotides are joined to one another in a chain by covalent bonds between the sugar of one nucleotide and the phosphate of the next, resulting in an alternating sugar-phosphate backbone.
Within the eukaryotic chromosomes, chromatin proteins such as histones compact and organize DNA.
These compact structures guide the interactions between DNA and other proteins, helping control which parts of the DNA are transcribed.
In a DNA molecule, the pyrimidines are thymine and cytosine, the purines are adenine and guanine. The DNA backbone is resistant to cleavage, and both strands of the double-stranded structure store the same biological information.
This information is replicated as and when the two strands separate.