which atom is responsible for joining nucleotides to build a new strand of DNA

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Nucleotides are joined together similarly to other biological molecules, by a condensation reaction that releases a small, stable molecule. Unlike proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids, however, the molecule that is released is not water but pyrophosphate (two phosphate groups bound together). When pyrophosphate is cleaved by the addition of water, a great deal of free energy is released, ensuring that the reverse process (hydrolysis of the phosphodiester bond to give free nucleotides) is very unlikely to occur.

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