Differences between DNA and RNA

By | August 21, 2021
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Nucleic acids accounts for one of the four major biological macromolecules, which carry genetic blueprint of a cell and are essential for proper functioning of the cell. Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and Ribonucleic acid (RNA) are two important nucleic acids which help in carrying genetic information and are made up of nucleotide monomers. Even though both DNA and RNA are made up of nucleotides but there exists some major differences. In this article we will look into some important differences between DNA and RNA.

Feature / Comparison DNA RNA
NameDeoxyribonucleic acidRibonucleic acid
Location Nucleus and mitochondria / ChloroplastsNucleus and Cytoplasm
Structure – SugarDeoxyribose sugarRibose sugar
Structure – Nitrogenous basesAdenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymineAdenine, guanine, cytosine, and uracil
Structure Double stranded and Double helixUsually single stranded
Base Pairing

AT (adenine-thymine)
GC (guanine-cytosine)
AU (Adenine-Uracil)
GC (guanine-cytosine)
FunctionLong term storage and transfer of genetic informationHelps in decoding genetic information present in DNA. In some viruses, RNA is double stranded and acts as hereditary or genetic molecule.
Helix GeometryThe helix geometry of DNA is of β-form.The helix geometry of RNA is of α-form.
StabilityMore stable due to its deoxy ribose sugar, which contains one less oxygen-containing hydroxyl groupLess stable
ReplicationSelf replicating and enzyme used is DNA polymeraseNeeds DNA for replication and enzyme is RNA polymerase
Transport from nucleusAlways stays in nucleusAfter synthesis in nucleus, RNA is transported to cytoplasm
TypesNuclear DNA and Extra-chromosomal (plasmid DNA, mitochondrial- DNA, chloroplast- DNA etc.)Messenger RNA (mRNA) Transfer RNA (tRNA) Ribosomal RNA (rRNA) and non-coding RNAs
Structural features3 types of DNA : A-form: Right-handed double helix, B-form : Most common form of DNA and Right-handed double helix , Z-form: left-handed DNAA-form helix. RNA usually is a linear single-strand helix, but circular single stranded RNAs are also found in plants and animals.
DNA and RNA structure and their Nitrogenous bases
Difference in Ribose sugar molecules

Image Credit for RNA and DNA structure : Wikipedia