Comparison With DNA
RNA and DNA are both nucleic acids, but differ in three main ways:
- Unlike double-stranded DNA, RNA is a single-stranded molecule in many of its biological roles and has a much shorter chain of nucleotides.
- While DNA contains deoxyribose, RNA contains ribose (in deoxyribose there is no hydroxyl group attached to the pentose ring in the 2' position). These hydroxyl groups make RNA less stable than DNA because it is more prone to hydrolysis.
- The complementary base to adenine is not thymine, as it is in DNA, but rather uracil, which is an unmethylated form of thymine.
Like DNA, most biologically active RNAs, including mRNA, tRNA, rRNA, snRNAs, and other non-coding RNAs, contain self-complementary sequences that allow parts of the RNA to fold and pair with itself to form double helices. Analysis of these RNAs has revealed that they are highly structured. Unlike DNA, their structures do not consist of long double helices but rather collections of short helices packed together into structures akin to proteins. In this fashion, RNAs can achieve chemical catalysis, like enzymes. For instance, determination of the structure of the ribosome—an enzyme that catalyzes peptide bond formation—revealed that its active site is composed entirely of RNA.
Read more about this topic: RNA
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