DNA vs. RNA: differences and similarities (2023)

"DNA and RNA are the genetic material of all life on earth, made up of sugars, phosphate and nitrogenous bases."

Although both differ in structure, function and texture. But before we discuss that, let's start.vonbasics.

A nucleic acid - theADNÖARNit is present in the nucleus of a cell responsible for inheritance of traits.

It is the genetic material of both prokaryotes and eukaryotes. And it transmits information from one generation to another. Consequently, it produces different traits or phenotypes to serve different functions.

However, RNA as genetic material is only found in some viruses called retroviruses, not our genetic material. However, it plays unique roles in other prokaryotes and eukaryotes.

"DNA stores and transmits genetic information, while RNA converts it into functional proteins."and there is a big difference between the two.

In this article, we will talk about some of the important differences between DNA and RNA along with some common similarities between them.

Important Announcement:there is a short circuittest sectionat the end of this article. Stay tuned.

Key Issues:

Let's start with the structure

The structural difference between DNA and RNA:

DNA is a double-stranded biomolecule composed of two polynucleotide chains while RNA is a single-stranded biomolecule composed of only one.Polynucleotide chains.“

DNA vs. RNA: differences and similarities (1)

Why is DNA double stranded? Well, it's still a mystery, but scientists believe it's DNA that's most vulnerable to damage: it's the genetic material in almost all living things. So if one of the strands is damaged, a second strand can be used to repair it or form another similar complementary strand.

Interestingly, some double-stranded RNAs are also found in eukaryotes, also calledmicroARNÖsiRNA.

Functionally, microRNA cannot make proteins, it helpsRegulation of gene expressionthrough the mechanism of RNA interference. EITHERdsRNA is present in very small amounts.


"The length of DNA is much larger compared to RNA."

A node genome contains both coding and non-coding types of DNA, arranged inChromosomes.

If you stretch out all of the DNA in a cell, it's actually 10 feet long. Therefore, it is very important to incorporate it into the cell.DNA packagingit allows you to organize it into chromosomes and fit into the cell.

(Video) DNA vs RNA (Updated)

In contrast, RNA is a functional end product that is transcribed from DNA, so it is much shorter than DNA (other non-coding sequences are removed).

The complete human genome consists of 3.2 billion base pairs, while the total RNA of a cell is only a few kb long.


although bothnucleic acidsare almost similar, DNA consists ofdeoxyribose sugar while RNA is made up ofonly ribose sugar.

The deoxyribose sugar lacks an oxygen molecule and has a hydrogen atom on carbon 2 instead of a hydroxyl group.

Otherwise,Ribose is a simple sugar thatit has an oxygen molecule with an extra hydroxyl group on carbon 2. See the picture below,

DNA vs. RNA: differences and similarities (2)

During the catalytic reaction, the difference in oxygen makes it easier for the enzymes to distinguish between DNA and RNA.

Similarity:Both are five-carbon pentose sugars that form a nucleotide by pairing with base and phosphate (sugar + base + phosphate = nucleotide).


DNA is made up of adenine, guanine, cytosine and thymine while RNA is made up of adenine, guanine, cytosine and uracil.

how did you notice that"Instead of thymine, RNA contains uracil, which is another big difference between DNA and RNA."

Similarity:DNA and RNA are made up of nitrogenous bases -Purine und Pyrimidine.

Two strands of DNA are connected by hydrogen bonds: two between adenine and thymine and three between cytosine and guanine.

On the other hand, when the RNA is double-stranded, it is connected by hydrogen bonds: two hydrogen bonds between adenine and uracil and three hydrogen bonds between cytosine and guanine.

DNA vs. RNA: differences and similarities (3)


DNA is found in the nucleus of a cell while RNA is synthesized in a cell but migrates to the cytoplasm and forms proteins at the site of the ribosome.

However, some DNA is also present in membrane-bound organelles such as mitochondria and chloroplasts. read more inOrganelle DNAon here.

Synthesis difference between DNA and RNA:

"DNA is synthesizedby a DNA polymerase enzyme during the replication process while synthesizing RNAby an RNA polymerase enzyme during transcription.

“The process of RNA synthesis is once againwhile the DNA synthesis process required a short single-stranded primer (not de novo)".

This clearly shows that no primer (nucleic acid) is required for RNA synthesis by RNA polymerase.

Related article:DNA-Polymerase x RNA-Polymerase.

(Video) DNA vs RNA - 5 Differences Between DNA and RNA

Structurally, RNA is made up of loops and rods, while DNA is a double-stranded, coiled structure arranged in chromosomes. However, some DNA molecules also have an additional tetraplex, quadruplex, or alpha-helix structure.

Some DNA also exists in circular and linear forms.

The functional difference between DNA and RNA:

The main function of DNA is to store information in a population and transmit it from one generation to the next. To do this, the DNA is replicated: it is multiplied and passed on to the daughter cells.

Therefore inherited from one generation to another.

On the other hand, the function of RNA is to make a protein.

In fact, RNA takes the coding information from DNA through transcription and translates it into a chain of amino acids. (A long chain of amino acids and polypeptides creates proteins.)

Based on this, another difference between the two is that

"DNA replicates itself, while RNA is only synthesized from DNA when needed."

Different types of DNA:

DNA in nature that occurs in five different forms: A-DNA, B-DNA, C-DNA, D-DNA, and Z-DNA.

The B form of DNA is found in almost all living organisms.and is more common in nature. That's itRight-handed DNA with a major and a minor groove. It has 10.5 base pairs per turn of the helix.

The A form of DNA is also right-handed, but the helix is ​​wider than the B form of DNA. It has one major groove and one minor groove and 11 base pairs per turn of the helix.

Z-shaped DNA is left-handed and lacks the main groove. It has 12 base pairs per turn of the helix.

C-shaped DNA is a very rare variant with 9.33 base pairs per turn of the helix. The D-shape is also extremely rare.

Different types of RNA:

mRNA:a messenger RNA encodes an amino acid to form a polypeptide chain.

RNAto:A transfer RNA helps transfer amino acids to the translation site in the cytoplasm of the ribosome.

rRNA:a cytoplasmic ribosomal RNA is a component of the ribosome necessary for protein synthesis.

DNA vs. RNA: differences and similarities (4)

Other smaller RNAs:other smaller fragments of dsRNA called microRNA and siRNA are also present in a cell.

Some other differences:

"The alkaline state is now more favorable for the DNA, the DNA is more stable in the alkaline state, but the RNA is not."

DNA consists of the major and minor grooves, the minor groove does not allow the enzyme to bind, so it is very difficult for the nuclease to bind to the DNA and destroy it.

(Video) DNA and RNA - Differences in Form and Function | Stated Clearly

In contrast, RNA is single-stranded and does not have a small groove structure, it can be easily attacked and destroyed by a nuclease.

However, the degradation and new synthesis of RNA occurs continuously in a cell, faster than DNA.

"DNA is less reactive because of the stability provided by deoxyribose's C-H bonds, while RNA is more reactive because of ribose's O-H bonds."

“A genome of DNA also contains methylated DNA that cannot be expressed.On the other hand, none of the RNAs are methylated.”

Another important difference between DNA and RNA is their susceptibility to ultraviolet rays.

Ultraviolet Rays: UV rays are one of the most common types of natural radiationmutagenIt damages our DNA.

A mutagenic UV damages our DNA and causes genetic mutations.DNA is more susceptible to damage from UV rays, while RNA is comparatively resistant to UV rays.

DNA vs. RNA: differences and similarities (5)

A little bit more…

DNA is double-stranded and longer, while RNA is shorter and single-stranded, so RNA migrates on DNA in a gel. If you see a spot above the DNA band on a gel, your DNA is contaminated with RNA.

DNA extraction is even easier than RNA extraction; RNase is everywhere, including on our hands and other instruments, so RNA can be easily degraded or destroyed during isolation.

Meanwhile, an additional reverse transcription step is requiredRNA sequencingbut not in DNA sequencing. The extracted RNA is first reverse-transcribed into cDNA and then processed for sequencing.

Some of the different types of RNA are summarized here:

shortcutThe RNA typeprofession
ARNtRNA transferTransfer amino acids to the translation site.
rRNAARN ribosomalCatalyze the translation reaction.
siRNAsmall interfering RNAGene regulation and maintenance of gene expression.
LncRNAlong non-coding RNATranscriptional regulation and epigenetic regulation.
RNAssmall nuclear RNAAid in mRNA splicing and related functions
ARN nosmall nucleolar RNAHelps modify RNA nucleotides.
ARNippiwi nested RNArole in defenceagainst transposon; transposon defenseSystem.
scaARNCajal-specific small RNA bodyIt also helps with nucleotide modifications (a type of snoRNA).
ARNschsmall hairpin RNAThe synthetic RNA molecule helps regulate the gene and control gene expression.

Here are some of the differences you should know about DNA and RNA. Now let's talk about similarities.

Similarities Between DNA and RNA:

Apparently both belong to the class of macromolecules called nucleic acids and are genetic material.

Both are made up of five carbon pentoses, sugars, phosphate, and nitrogenous bases.

Both are polynucleotide chains composed of a single nucleotide unit or monomers.

Both biomolecules are synthesized by the enzyme polymerase.

In practice, both DNA and RNA can be precipitated with alcohol.

DNA in brief:

DNA is a unit of inheritance made up of nucleotides and is present in all living organisms on earth. A functional unit of DNA is referred to as an aGene, an alternative form of a gene: Alleles are located on chromosomes.

(Video) DNA vs RNA | Difference between DNA and RNA |

B-form DNA with right symmetry is most commonly found in almost all organisms.

The complete haploid set of all DNA is called the genome, our genome contains approximately 3.2 billion base pairs.

read article:History of DNA: The structure and function of DNA..

RNA in brief:

RNA is aSingle-stranded nucleic acid molecule also composed of sugar, phosphate and nitrogenous bases. mRNA is transcribed from DNA, which encodes a long chain of amino acids..

Instead of thymine, the RNA contains uracil and is synthesized by RNA polymerase.

Also, RNA is genetic material in some of the viruses called retroviruses.

Read for RNA:RNA structure and function.

Article overview:

Namedeoxyribose nucleic acidribose nucleic acid
professionStorage and transmission of information.coding protein
basic nitrogenadaadenine,Thymin, cytosine and guanine.adenine,Uracil, cytosine and guanine.
shape spiralright-handed DNA in form BA-shaped single-stranded RNA.
Slotlarge and small groovesBig grooves only.
synthesisDuring replication by DNA polymeraseDuring transcription by RNA polymerase
Longup to 3 meters (whole genome)Much shorter than DNA.
LocationIt is located in the cell nucleus (mitochondria and chloroplasts).It is synthesized in the nucleus and acts in the cytoplasm.
nuclease activityLess prone to nucleaseMore susceptible to nuclease.

Related article:The Basics of Genetics: A Beginner's Guide to Learning Genetics.


Scientists believe that RNA evolved first, before DNA, and is therefore now present in some viruses. However, the exact reason why DNA evolved is still unknown, as the final polypeptide product is translated from mRNA with the help of tRNA and rRNA.

However, the main difference between DNA and RNA is not the bases they contain, but the sugars that make them both unique. Deoxysugar improves DNA, making it more stable and less reactive, while RNA is more reactive due to ribose and easily degraded by nucleases.

(A)What is missing in DNA?

  1. adenine
  2. Guanine
  3. Uracil
  4. Thymin

(B)RNA is synthesized by?

  1. DNA-Polymerase
  2. RNA-Polymerase
  3. Liga
  4. Helicasa

(C)Is RNA the genetic material different?

  1. bacteria
  2. Plant
  3. nematodes
  4. Virus

(D)DNA consists of _______

  1. Polynucleotide chains
  2. Polypeptidkette
  3. carboxylic acid chain
  4. amino acid chain

(MI)What is a nucleotide?

  1. Zucker + Base
  2. sugar + phosphate
  3. sugar + phosphate + base
  4. Base + Phosphat


(A): 3- Uracilo. (B): 2-ARN Polimerasa. (C): 4- Virus. (D): 1-Polynucleotide chains.(ES): 3-sugar + phosphate + base.


(Video) The Difference Between DNA and RNA

  1. Alberts B, Johnson A, Lewis J, et al. molecular biology of the cell. 4th edition. New York: Garland Science; 2002. The structure and function of DNA.Available from:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK26821/.
  2. Alberts B, Johnson A, Lewis J, et al. molecular biology of the cell. 4th edition. New York: Garland Science; 2002. From DNA to RNA.Available from:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK26887/.
  3. Alberts B, Johnson A, Lewis J, et al. molecular biology of the cell. 4th edition. New York: Garland Science; 2002. From RNA to Protein.Available from:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK26829/.


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