NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms

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The NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms features 7,812 terms related to cancer and medicine.

Browse the dictionary by selecting a letter of the alphabet or by entering a cancer-related word or phrase in the search box.

base pair
(bays payr)
Molecules called nucleotides, on opposite strands of the DNA double helix, that form chemical bonds with one another. These chemical bonds act like rungs in a ladder and help hold the two strands of DNA together. There are four nucleotides, or bases, in DNA: adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G), and thymine (T). These bases form specific pairs (A with T, and G with C).

EnlargeDNA base pair; drawing shows double-stranded DNA with bonds between two pairs of  nitrogen-containing bases [adenine (A) and thymine (T), and cytosine (C) and guanine (G)].

DNA base pair. Under normal circumstances, the nitrogen-containing bases adenine (A) and thymine (T) pair together, and cytosine (C) and guanine (G) pair together. The binding of these base pairs forms the structure of DNA .