What’s the main difference between DNA and RNA?


What’s the main difference between DNA and RNA?

In: Biology

Well, RNA is just one spiral instead of a double helix, and is composed of slightly different amines that analog similarly to the ones in DNA (CGAU vs CGAT). RNA contains Uracil rather than Thymine.

The other major difference is that there’s one more oxygen molecule bonded into a hydroxyl group (a hydrogen molecule stuck to an oxygen molecule) in ribose than there is in deoxyribose (hence de-oxy ribose) and ribose is the R in RNA while deoxyribose is the D in DNA.

Chemically, the difference is DNA contains one oxygen atom less than RNA per nucleotide unit and RNA exchanges on of the nucleobases.

Biologically, DNA is used to store information and RNA is used to transmit information.

To simplify that, DNA is composed mainly of four different “building blocks”, known mostly by their initials – so essentially DNA is a string of the letters GCAT. RNA is almost the same as DNA, except its building blocks are GCAU instead. The actual chemistry and structure of RNA is also slightly different. Edit: also yes, if you think of DNA and visualize the standard spiral, you can see that DNA is like a ladder with two sides. RNA is one spiral instead of the double that DNA has.

Functionally, you can think of DNA as the blueprint (genes) and RNA as the person who can read a blueprint and work with the construction team — RNA is essentially a messenger that carries instructions.

On a more practical level: DNA is more stable, but also more expensive in terms of energy to produce.

For storing information and acting as a master blueprint, stability is more important. RNA however, is mostly produced for short term use, so cheapness is more important.