Eli5: what is the difference between/the relationship between RNA and DNA?


Eli5: what is the difference between/the relationship between RNA and DNA?

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Anonymous 0 Comments

The ELI5 answer is that DNA is the architect and RNA is the builder, but to be a little above ELI5. DNA is the blueprint from which everything is copied from or to. RNA is the copy machine. When DNA needs to copied, it’s RNA that comes in and attaches to the open DNA molecule (one side only) matching it’s pairs to the DNA before moving off. Once in place, bits and pieces attach to the RNA until the DNA strand is complete and BOOM: new DNA.

Anonymous 0 Comments

To keep it short:

DNA contains instructions to make proteins. RNA carries these instructions to the protein factories (called “ribosomes”). DNA is in the famous shape of a double-helix. Imagine only one side/one half of that – and you have the shape of RNA, which is a single strand.

And all this happens at a micro-cellular level.

Anonymous 0 Comments


Anonymous 0 Comments


Anonymous 0 Comments

DNA is the blueprint for making your proteins. RNA is a work order. It is a copy of a portion of the blueprint that is sent off to factory to get the protein made.

Anonymous 0 Comments

DNA is the master copy. In most circumstances you only want one copy of it sitting around at any given time. It has developed to become sturdy and resilient to damage, and it is always under constant repair and error correction. It is also very long, and has the ability to be spun up into condensed packages for deep storage when not in use.

RNA is basically just a photocopy of DNA. Stuff all around the cell needs to use the DNA as instructions to do their tasks, but not everything can be swarming around the DNA reading it all at once. Instead, special proteins periodically “scan” the DNA and “photocopy” it to RNA. RNA is built similarly to DNA, but it is very short, and its structure makes it much more temporary. It lasts just long enough to leave the place where the DNA is stored, make it out to something that will read its bite-sized instruction, and then it disintegrates back into pieces that can be recycled to make new strands of RNA.

You can think of it like having one master copy of a very fancy and expensive book, that everyone in a company needs to read from from time to time. But instead of letting everyone mass around the book every time they need something, you have some employees occasionally flip to certain pages and photocopy them, and they send out photocopies to everyone. These photocopies are read a few times, thrown away, and then the paper is recycled.

Anonymous 0 Comments


DNA is the progenitor of RNA. Like others have stated, RNA is like a functional copy of DNA.


DNA does not leave the nucleus in an active cell. RNA leaves the nucleus once it is synthesised to do other things in the cytosol.

DNA is double-stranded (i.e. complementary pairs are bonded to each other. Think of magnets attracting at their poles). RNA is single-stranded.

DNA is [deoxy]ribonucleic acid. RNA is ribonucleic acid. This means, literally, that DNA’s sugar structure has 1 fewer Oxygen molecule bound to its 2nd Carbon.

DNA contains Thymine as a nucleobase while RNA contains Uracil. When DNA is transcribed to RNA, any Ts from DNA will appear as Us in RNA.

Anonymous 0 Comments

DNA and RNA are both very similar: they are long chains of genetic data. Like a computer stores data in 0s and 1s, they store it in A, C, G, T (or U; roughly the RNA version of DNA’s T). Those are certain relatively simple chemicals, which are arranged along a backbone along the DNA or RNA.

For making a copy, added stability in storage, and to avoid/detect errors in this code, this strand of bio-data can be paired with a second strand which has exactly opposite data (A<->T/U and C<->G oppose each other). DNA generally comes with such a partner and they are unraveled only when something happens to it. RNA can come in both versions (some posts here claim it does only appear single-stranded, which is wrong!).

Their structural difference is in said backbone. DNA’s one is more stable. This has advantages for long-term storage and stability, but also makes it a bit more difficult to read or write it. RNA, especially single-stranded one, is therefore almost always rather short, usually only a dozen to a few hundred of A, C, G, T/U.

In a DNA-based cell, RNA is usually for short-term copies to be sent to other parts of the same cell with instructions how to build stuff (proteins) from this instructions; the latter part is a very complex beast on its own, as is the copying mechanism. This RNA is always single-stranded and will dissolve soon. The dual version is usually only found in certain viruses, most are single-stranded though (e.g. covid-19).