What is RNA and how is it different from DNA?

RNA is an acronym that stands for ribonucleic acid. DNA, on the other hand, stands
for deoxyribonucleic acid. RNA and DNA make up the genome of a particular
organism. The genome of an organism include its genes and the non-coding
sequences that make up its genetic material and contain all of the hereditary
information of that organism. Ribonucleic acid is a large and ubiquitous family of
molecules that play roles in the coding, decoding, expression, and regulation of
genes. With DNA, ribonucleic acid make up a group called the nucleic acids. Along
with proteins, nucleic acids make up the three macromolecules that are essential to
life.
RNA is comprised of a long chain of nucleotides and is typically single stranded.
There are a number of organisms that use RNA as their main genetic material and
there are also multiple forms of RNA that are used to accomplish various tasks
within organisms using DNA as their genetic material. RNA contains four base
nucleotides: guanine, adenine, uracil, and cytosine. In organisms which use DNA as
their genetic material, RNA is usually used for gene expression and silencing as well
as helping to direct the synthesis of proteins.
DNA is usually double stranded and most multicellular organisms use DNA as their
basic genetic material. DNA is typically composed of a very long strand of
nucleotides which are bound up by proteins until expression is needed, at which
time they are unbound and allowed to be processed and expressed. The four base
nucleotides of DNA are adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine. DNA is most suited
to the storage of massive amounts of genetic information and typically contains
duplicate sequences in order to provide some form of redundancy to prevent loss of
information. The two strands of DNA run anti-parallel to each other. DNA is typically
highly bound into structures known as chromosomes which duplicate as part of cell
division.
RNA differs from proteins in three fundamental ways. DNA is almost always double
stranded whereas RNA is usually a single stranded molecule and is comprised of a
much shorter chain of nucleotides than DNA. DNA contains deoxyribose in its sugar-

phosphate backbone whereas RNA contains ribose. Ribose has a hydroxyl group
present at the two prime position of the pentose ring and deoxyribose does not.
Finally, the base that is complementary to adenine is uracil instead of thymine. An
unmethylated form of thymine is uracil. Most RNAs, when active, have sequences in
their nucleotide chain that are self-complementary and allow the RNA to form
various structures (including double helices, though not as long as those double
helices that are formed by DNA.). DNA does not form the types of tertiary structures
that RNA forms. The tertiary structures that are formed by RNA molecules more
closely resemble those that proteins form in their active state.
Typically, RNA is not as highly bound up as DNA and can be accessed for translation
at most anytime if it is located in the right area. Unlike DNA, there are multiple
subtypes of RNA all of which play an important biological role. Messenger RNA is
used to carry information about a specific protein sequence to ribosomes.
Ribosomes then translate that protein sequence into the proteins themselves.
Transfer RNA are used to carry the various amino acids to the ribosomes for
assembly into the polypeptide sequences of the proteins being created. In addition
to RNA molecules that are primarily used for protein synthesis, there are a number
of other types.
Many viruses encode their entire genome on RNA molecules and then use the
machinery of other cells in order to replicate their proteins and their RNA sequence.
Regulatory RNA can be used to do a number of important things including the downregulation of gene expression or the “silencing” of mRNA molecules which are
carrying protein messages. This “silencing” occurs when a regulatory RNA binds to a
complementary sequence on the mRNA and prevents it from being translated.

1. DNA contains the sugar deoxyribose, while RNA contains the sugar ribose.
The only difference between ribose and deoxyribose is that ribose has one
more -OH group than deoxyribose, which has -H attached to the second (2')
carbon in the ring.
2. DNA is a double stranded molecule while RNA is a single stranded molecule.
3. DNA is stable under alkaline conditions while RNA is not stable.
4. DNA and RNA perform different functions in humans. DNA is responsible for
storing and transferring genetic information while RNA directly codes for
amino acids and as acts as a messenger between DNA and ribosomes to
make proteins.
5. DNA and RNA base pairing is slightly different, since DNA uses the bases
adenine, thymine, cytosine, and guanine; RNA uses adenine, uracil, cytosine,
and guanine. Uracil differs from thymine in that it lacks a methyl group on its
ring.