The key difference between DNA and RNA is that DNA is a type of nucleic acid consisting of deoxyribonucleotides while the RNA is the second type of nucleic acid consisting of ribonucleotides.
There are two main types of nucleic acids in a cell such as DNA and RNA. DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid while RNA stands for ribonucleic acid. Both types of nucleic acids are extremely important. DNA acts as the heredity material of most of the living organisms. On the other hand, RNA is important since three types of RNA are essential for protein synthesis. In eukaryotes, DNA is present inside the nucleus while in prokaryotes, DNA is present in the cytoplasm. However, in both types of organisms, RNA is present in the cytoplasm.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is DNA
3. What is RNA
4. Similarities Between DNA and RNA
5. Side by Side Comparison – DNA vs RNA in Tabular Form
What is DNA?
DNA is the abbreviation of Deoxyribonucleic Acid. In human, DNA carries the genetic information in the form of special nucleotide fragments called genes. Genes encode for proteins. Within the cells, DNA molecules tightly fold with histone proteins and arrange into long thread-like structures called chromosomes. Human genome constitutes 23 chromosome pairs. The total length of the chromosome is nearly 2 meters (nearly the height of the human). Since the entire length of DNA tightly coils with histone proteins, the entire 2m DNA chain can reside inside the nucleus.
Human DNA is a double-stranded helix that composes deoxyribonucleotides. Each deoxyribonucleotide consists of three components; a deoxyribose sugar, a phosphate group, and a nitrogenous base. Four types of nitrogenous bases in DNA are adenine, guanine, cytosine and thymine. Nucleotides link with each other by phosphodiester bonds and form the DNA chain. In DNA double helix, two DNA chains are complementary to each other, and they run anti-parallel.
Moreover, DNA has the ability to replicate itself or transcribe into mRNA (messenger RNA) to produce protein. All the cell reactions depend on DNA’s message, and this message will be transformed into mRNA, and the messenger will come out of the nucleus to form the protein.
What is RNA?
RNA is the abbreviation of Ribonucleic Acid. RNA is usually a single chain composing of ribonucleotides. Ribonucleotides differ from deoxyribonucleotides by two things such as from the pentose sugar ribose and nitrogenous base uracil. The main function of the RNA is to carry the genetic message from DNA to protein synthesis site and help in protein synthesis.
Moreover, there are three types of RNA namely mRNA, tRNA, and rRNA. All three types are important in protein synthesis. mRNA brings the genetic information to produce a protein from DNA while tRNA recognizes the codons of mRNA and brings respective amino acids to ribosomes. rRNA assembles amino acids into polypeptide chain and makes the protein. Hence, all three types involved in protein synthesis by fulfilling different but cooperate functions.
In most living organisms, RNA does not work as the genetic material. But some viruses have RNA genomes. Most of the viruses causing common cold are RNA viruses. Furthermore, the RNA usually forms from DNA, but the DNA cannot form from RNA (except the retroviruses, where the reverse enzyme transcriptase is present). Compared to DNA, RNA is small in size. Furthermore, RNA will not be transferred as genetic material when the cell forms a new cell (except RNA virus).
What are the Similarities Between DNA and RNA?
- DNA and RNA are nucleic acids in living organisms.
- They are macromolecules composed of nucleotide monomers.
- Also, both are important in protein synthesis.
- Furthermore, both are double-stranded or single-stranded.
- Besides, they contain pentose sugar molecules, phosphate groups and nitrogenous bases.
What is the Difference Between DNA and RNA?
DNA is one of the two main types of nucleic acids that comprise deoxyribonucleotides. On the other hand, RNA is the second type of nucleic acid that composes ribonucleotides. This is the key difference between DNA and RNA. Furthermore, DNA works as the genetic material of most organisms. Thus, DNA inherits from parent to offspring. But, RNA does not work as the genetic material of most living organisms hence, does not inherit from parent to offspring. Therefore, this is another difference between DNA and RNA.
Structurally, DNA contains deoxyribose sugar while RNA contains ribose sugar. Hence, this is also a difference between DNA and RNA. Additionally, another structural difference between DNA and RNA is that the DNA contains thymine while RNA contains uracil. Not only that, DNA is double-stranded and longer chains while RNA is single-stranded and shorter chains. Thus, it is also a difference between DNA and RNA.
The below infographic presents more details on the difference between DNA and RNA.
Summary – DNA vs RNA
DNA and RNA are two types of nucleic acids. They are macromolecules composed of nucleotides. DNA works as the genetic material of most living organisms. On the other hand, RNA involves in protein synthesis. Furthermore, DNA is double-stranded while RNA is single stranded. Moreover, DNA is longer than RNA. Also, DNA resides inside the nucleus while RNA mostly resides in the cytoplasm. DNA is passed from parent to offspring while RNA does not inherit. This summarizes the difference between DNA and RNA.