Difference Between DNA and RNA


We all in the start have a basic understanding on what DNA and RNA means but that is just the basic of it. What we don't know is there are many more differences between RNA and DNA. For starters we know RNA is synthesised from DNA, but this is not just it there are more differences to know about RNA and DNA which we are going to read about in this post.

Difference between DNA and RNA:

Here are 16 key differences between RNA and DNA which you should know.

DNA RNA
1. DNA stands for DeoxyriboNucleic Acid RNA stands for Ribonucleic Acid
2. DNA is a double stranded helical structure RNA is a single stranded structure
3. Base pairs are Adenine, Thymine, Guanine and Cytosine Base pairs are Adenine, Thymine, Guanine and Uracil
4. DNA contains long chains of nucleotide RNA contains short chains of nucleotide
5. DNA contains deoxyribose sugar RNA contains ribose sugar
6. There are two types of DNA: intra nuclear DNA and extra nuclear DNA There are three types of RNA: m-RNA, r-RNA and t-RNA
7. DNA is only found in the nucleus of the cell in mitochondria Depending upon the position of the RNA it can be found in cytoplasm or ribosome
8. DNA can't leave the nucleus RNA can leave the nucleus
9. DNA is self replicating RNA is synthesised from DNA
10. DNA is less reactive RNA is more reactive
11. DNA is stable in nature RNA is unstable in nature
12. DNA tranfers the genetic information from generations to generations RNA is used to store genetic blueprints in primitive organisms
13. DNA stores genetic information for a longer time RNA tansfers genetic code
14. DNA in all the organisms are long lived Some RNA are short lived
15. DNA is not resistant to UV light RNA is resistant to UV light
16. Restoration power of DNA is slow Restoration power of RNA is fast

Similarities between DNA and RNA:

After understanding about the differences between DNA and RNA here are some similarities which you might want to know:

Similarities between DNA and RNA
1. Both can mutate
2. Both consist of the same three nitrogen bases except Cytosine is replaced by Uracil in RNA
3. Both are made up of monomers called nucleotide
4. Both contain pentose sugar
5. Both contain ribonucleic acid
6. Both are necessary for production of proteins which takes place in the cell
7. Both make m-RNA which is then translated into protein
8. Both are molecules of life
9. Both carry chemical information
10. Both have a phosphate group, a sugar group and a nitrogenous base

What is DNA ?

DNA stands for DeoxyriboNucleic Acid because it includes 5 carbon sugar called deoxyribose. It is a self-replicating material present in a maximum number of living organisms. It is present in the chromosomes in the center of the cells. DNA is stable than RNA (If you would wish to know why is DNA stable than RNA ? click here).

DNA is a hereditary material present in almost all the living organisms. The human DNA has about 3 million bases. From these 3 million bases almost 99% are same in all the people.

What is RNA ?

RNA stands for RiboNucleic Acid. It is present in living cells. It carries instructions from DNA for protein synthesis as DNA is dependent on RNA for protein synthesis. RNA has a high molecular weight.

There are 4 types of RNA which are as follows:

  1. m-RNA (messenger RNA).
  2. r-RNA (ribosomal RNA).
  3. t-RNA (transfer RNA)

Structure and functions of DNA and RNA:

Here is the structure and functions of DNA:

Structure of DNA:

 Structure of DNA
Structure of DNA

  • The DNA is double helical structure. Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes which are found inside the cell nucleus
  • The double helical strand includes a 5 carbon sugar which is called as deoxyribose, a phosphate group and nitrogen bases
  • The nitrogen bases are Adenine (A), Thymine (T), Guanine (G) and Cytosine (C). 
  • The nitrogen bases always pair with each other for eg, A with T and G with C
  • The strands of DNA are antiparallel. One is 3 prime strand and the other is 5 prime strand also denoted as 5' and 3' ends. This means that one end has a 5' carbon phosphate group attached and the other end has a 3' carbon hydroxyl group attached to it.  
  • DNA are in long strands of helix, so they are coiled tightly together which makes a chromosome. This makes it easier for DNA to fit inside the cell nucleus. 

Functions of DNA:

  • DNA makes proteins from the information stored. 
  • It is responsible for transfer of genetic information from the mother to the child and this occurs through the process of DNA replication
  • Apart from storing information to make proteins DNA also stores genetic information which are used by humans to develop their body, function normally and reproduce

Here is the structure and functions of RNA:

Structure of RNA:

 Structure of RNA
Structure of RNA
  • RNA is a single stranded biopolymer structure that means unlike DNA, RNA had only one strand. 
  • RNA contains a 5 carbon sugar called ribose sugar and nitrogenous bases
  • The nitrogenous base pairs are Adenine (A), Thymine (T), Guanine (G) and Uracil (U).
  • The bases will pair with each other eg, A with T and G with U
  • The bases are attached to the 1 prime end of the strand.  

Functions of RNA:

  • The main function of RNA is of protein synthesis. 
  • As you know RNA has many types they all work in harmony. Their functions are as follow:
    • m-RNA - Also known as messenger RNA is responsible of carrying messages from DNA to RNA because it controls all the cellular activities of the cell. 
    • r-RNA- Also known as ribosomal RNA is a part of the ribosome. It is responsible for the translation or to make proteins, reading the order of amino acids and to link them together. 
    • t-RNA- Also known as transfer RNA is responsible for reading the messages encoded in the nucleic acid and then use these codes to make proteins.

Points to remember:

  • DNA and RNA maybe be a little same in functions but not quite all the same they have their differences as well. Like, DNA is a double stranded helical structure but RNA only has a single strand. 
  • RNA is evolved from DNA. 
  • The base pairs in DNA are Adenine, Thymine, Guanine and Cytosine. 
  • The base pairs in RNA are Adenine, Thymine, Guanine and Uracil. 
  • Three common types of RNA are m-RNA, r-RNA and t-RNA. 
  • DNA is a hereditary material. 
  • The main role of RNA is to synthesise proteins. 
  • DNA is responsible for development, functioning and reproducing. 
  • DNA is more stable than RNA because RNA acts as a catalyst which makes it unstable in nature. 

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