Complementary base pairs

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Complementary base pairing is the phenomenon where in DNA guanine always hydrogen bonds to cytosine and adenine always binds to thymine.

The bond between guanine and cytosine shares three hydrogen bonds compared to the A-T bond which always shares two hydrogen bonds.

The human genome is made up of approximately 3 billion base pairs and is very complex, because of this we measure base pairs in Kbp (Kilobase pairs).


Complementary base pairing is important in DNA as it allows the base pairs to be arranged in the most energetically favourable way; it is essential in forming the helical structure of DNA.

It is also important in replication as it allows semiconservative replication[1].


  1. Albert B, Johnson A, Lewis J, Morgan D, Raff M, Roberts K, Walter P. Molecular Biology of the Cell. 6th Ed, Abingdon: Garland Science, Taylor and; Francis Group, LLC, 2015.
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