Differences between DNA and RNA

Differences between DNA and RNA

Although both contain genetic information, there are numerous differences between DNA and RNA. The scientific community does not agree as to which of the two may be the oldest. While some evidence suggests that DNA may have occurred first, most scientists say it is RNA that evolved in the first place.

Read also: Mitosis vs Meiosis: Discover the differences and similarities

The most important differences refer to the presence of different glucose in the molecules of both. Ribose in RNA and deoxyribose in DNA.

DNA: Deoxyribonucleic acid

RNA: Ribonucleic acid.

Differences between DNA and RNA

1 – Although the DNA and RNA consist of repeated units of nucleotides, as we have seen before, the difference is in glucose. Otherwise, the RNA a much wider range of nucleic acids, about 4 times larger compared to DNA. This uniqueness of RNA gives it a greater capacity to assume different forms and functions.

2 – The DNA carries out the most important part, which is to select the genetic code that will be transmitted to the next generation, and the RNA will be responsible for transmitting said code, say that the DNA writes it and RNA carries it. DNA works in two phases and RNA in a single phase, but both are critically important for evolution and both are needed from each other.

3 – Deoxyribose in DNA contains CH bonds so it is more stable and reacts less under alkaline conditions. DNA is very difficult to attack by enzymes or other harmful substances. On the other hand, the difference with ribose is that it is more reactive with C-OH bonds and is not as stable under alkaline conditions, which gives it great vulnerability to enzyme attacks or exposure to ultraviolet rays.

4 – Both DNA and RNA are nucleic acids, but they have some basic differences. As we have explained before, the DNA groups its proteins in the form of helices but in pairs, being a double chain, while the RNA, forms a simple helix.

DNA is therefore a double-stranded molecule, while RNA is a single-stranded molecule.

5 – The final mission of DNA is to carry out long-term storage and transfer to the future stem of genetic information. RNA, on the other hand, directly encodes amino acids and performs the messenger function between DNA and ribosomes.

6 – DNA is always in the nucleus, however, RNA can be found both in the nucleus and in the cytoplasm.

7 – DNA is stable under alkalinity conditions, while RNA is not.

8 – The base pairs are slightly different in both systems. DNA uses bases of adenine, thymine, cytosine and guanine. While RNA uses adenine, uracil, cytosine and guanine. This uracil molecule differs from thymine in that it lacks a methyl group in its ring.

It is curious to know that a person’s traits are directly related to DNA and RNA. There is no doubt that both are decisive for the evolution of the species and are part of the key to life.

We can summarize the previous differences in these 4 main differences:

  • – RNA uses ribose and deoxyribose DNA
  • – DNA has double helix chain and single strand RNA
  • – DNA is stable under alkaline conditions, but RNA is not.
  • – DNA stores and stores genetic information, but RNA acts as a messenger.

Comparison table:

Comparison DNA RNA
Name Deoxyribonucleic acid Ribonucleic acid
Function Long-term storage of genetic information and the transmission of genetic information to form new organisms. It is used to transfer the genetic code of the nucleus to the ribosomes. 
Structural characteristics In the form of double helix.  A single chain helix formed by shorter chains of nucleotides.
Chain Composition Deoxyribose and main chain composition  consisting of  adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine Ribose, and chain composition formed by adenine, guanine, cytosine, and uracil.
Propagation The DNA is self-replicating. RNA is synthesized from DNA as necessary.
Base Matching AT (adenine-thymine) 
GC (guanine-cytosine)
AU (adenine-uracil) 
GC (guanine-cytosine)
Stability CH links make it quite stable. The OH bond in ribose makes the molecule more reactive. It does not behave stable under alkaline conditions.
Ultraviolet radiation Little resistant to UV damage. Relatively resistant to UV damage.


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