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In molecular biology, two nucleotides on opposite complementary DNA or RNA strands that are connected via hydrogen bonds are called a base pair (often abbreviated bp). In the canonical Watson-Crick base pairing, adenine (A) forms a base pair with thymine (T), as does guanine (G) with cytosine (C) in DNA. In RNA, thymine is replaced by uracil (U). Non-Watson-Crick base pairing with alternate hydrogen bonding patterns also occur, especially in RNA; common such patterns are Hoogsteen base pairs. Pairing is also the mechanism by which codons on messenger RNA molecules are recognized by anticodons on transfer RNA during protein translation. Some DNA- or RNA-binding enzymes can recognize specific base pairing patterns that identify particular regulatory regions of genes. The size of an individual gene or an organism's entire genome is often measured in base pairs because DNA is usually double-stranded.
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