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What are some differences between RNA and DNA?

RNA and DNA, both carry genetic information but there are a few key differences between them. But before moving to key differences let us first get familiar with the definitions.

What is DNA?

DNA is an acronym for Deoxyribonucleic acid is a nucleic acid, which functions as the original blueprint for protein synthesis. It comprises the phosphates, sugar deoxyribose, and a unique sequence of nitrogenous bases guanine (G), adenine (A), thymine (T), and Cytosine (C).

What is RNA?

RNA is an acronym for Ribonucleic acid is a nucleic acid that is directly included in protein synthesis. It is an essential nucleotide with nucleic acids long chains present in all the living cells.

RNA’s primary role is to act as a messenger that conveys instructions from DNA for controlling the synthesis of proteins.  It comprises phosphates, the sugar ribose, and nitrogenous bases including guanine (G), Adenine (A), Uracil (U), Cytosine (C).

RNA and DNA share the nitrogenous bases G, C, and A. But thymine is usually present in DNA only whereas Uracil is present in RNA only.

Key differences between RNA and DNA

Definition DNA is a long polymer that has a deoxyribose and phosphate backbone having four different bases including adenine, thymine, guanine and cytosine. RNA is a polymer with a ribose and phosphate backbone with four distinct bases including cytosine, uracil, guanine and adenine.
Sugar Portion It has 2-deoxyribose. It has ribose.
Location It is located in a cell’s nucleus and the mitochondria. It is generally found in the nucleus, cytoplasm, and ribosomes.
Function Directs protein synthesis

Storing genetic information

Determines the genetic coding

It is directly responsible for evolution, metabolic activities, differentiation, and heredity.

Transferring genetic information from DNA to proteins.

Carrying the genetic information outside the nucleus.

Translating it to proteins.

Propagation It replicates on its own. In short, it is self-replicating. It does not replicate on its own. RNA is synthesized from DNA whenever required.
Predominant Structure It is a double-stranded molecule having a long chain of nucleotides. It is a single-stranded molecule having a shorter chain of nucleotides.
Nitrogenous Bases and Pairing The base pairing of DNA is as follows: A-T (Adenine pairs with Thymine) GC (Guanine pairs with Cytosine) The base pairing of RNA is as follows: A-U (Adenine pairs with Uracil) GC (Guanine pairs with Cytosine)
Ultraviolet Damage It is susceptible to UV damage. As compared to DNA. This one is relatively resistant to UV damage.
Helix Geometry DNA’s helix geometry is β-form. RNA’s helix geometry is α-form.
Bases Ratio Here, Adenine = Thymine

And Guanine = Cytosine

Here, Adenine ≠ Thymine

And Guanine ≠ Cytosine

A major enzyme involved in the propagation DNA polymerase RNA polymerase
Molecular Weight 2 to 6 million 25000 to 2 million
Number For specific species, the DNA number remains the same for every cell. The RNA number may differ from cell to cell.
Usefulness and Versatility It is more stable and also holds more complex information for a longer time. It is more versatile than DNA and is capable of performing diverse tasks in an organism.
Types Chromosomal DNA and Extrachromosomal DNA including chl-DNA, mt-DNA, etc. Its types include messenger RNA (mRNA), Ribosomal RNA (rRNA), and Transfer RNA (tRNA)
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