DNA vs RNA – Main Differences Between DNA and RNA‎

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RNA is quite similar to DNA but differs in many aspects; RNA nucleotides contain Ribose sugars whereas DNA contains de-oxy-ribose (a type of ribose that lacks one oxygen atom)  on the other hand RNA uses predominantly uracil (U) instead of thymine (T) present in DNA.The Differences Between DNA and RNA - DNA vs RNA

Which Came First?

According to some evidence, DNA may have occurred first, although most of the scientists consider RNA evolved before DNA. RNA has a simpler structure and is needed in order for DNA to function. Also, RNA is found in prokaryotes, which are believed to precede eukaryotes. RNA on its own can act as a catalyst for certain chemical reactions.

The Differences Between DNA and RNA- DNA vs RNA

Sr. No. Character DNA RNA
1. Full form Deoxyribonucleic Acid Ribonucleic Acid
2.  Structure
3. Locating DNA is located in the nucleus, with a small amount of DNA also present in mitochondria. RNA forms in the nucleolus, and then go to specialized regions of the cytoplasm depending on the type of RNA formed.
4. Structure A long, ladder-like macromolecule that wraps to form a double helix structure of DNA except in a few viruses. In opposite to the double helix structure of DNA, RNA is generally single stranded.
5. Helix Geometry The helix geometry structure of DNA is of β-form. The helix geometry structure of RNA is of α-order.
5. Nucleotides Each DNA nucleotide includes one of four nitrogenous bases, shortened A (adenine), G (guanine), T (thymine), or C (cytosine). Includes the nitrogenous base uracil in place of thymine.
6. Series of Nucleotides Long series of nucleotides Relatively short chains
7. Sugar DNA contains deoxyribose sugar. Contains another sugar (ribose rather than deoxyribose) in its nucleotides.
8. Base Pairs                                                   The bases in the DNA is Adenine and Thymine pair (A-T)Cytosine and Guanine pair (C-G) The bases in RNA is Adenine and Uracil pair (A-U)Cytosine and Guanine pair (C-G)
9. Bases Ratio In DNA case:
• Adenine = Thymine
• Guanine = Cytosine
In case of RNA:
• Adenine ≠ Thymine
• Guanine ≠ Cytosine
10. Molecular Weight 2 to 6 million 25,000 to 2 million
11. Number For a particular species, the DNA number remains constant for every cell. The number of RNA may differ from cell to cell.
12. Molecule DNA does not usually exist as a single molecule, but instead as a tightly-associated pair of molecules. RNA may exist as a single molecule.
13. Propagation DNA is self-replicating. RNA is synthesized from DNA on an as-needed basis.
14. Major enzyme involved in propagation DNA polymerase RNA polymerase
15. Need of Primer Primer is necessary to initiate replication. No primer is needed for RNA.
16. Proof-reading activity Present. Absent since RNA polymerase lacks the ability to detect errors of base pairing.
17. Polymer length DNA is a much longer polymer than RNA. A chromosome, for example, is a single, long DNA molecule, which would be several centimetres in length when unravelled. RNA molecules are variable in length, but much shorter than long DNA polymers. A large RNA molecule might only be a few thousand base pairs long.
18. Leaving Nucleus DNA can’t leave the nucleus. RNA leaves the nucleus (mRNA).
19. Complementary forms Complementary forms are mostly between two DNA strands. RNA strand can form complementary structures with strands of either DNA or RNA.
20. Destruction  and re-use DNA is completely protected by the body i.e. the body destroys enzymes that cleave DNA.   RNA strands are continually made, broken down and reused.
21. Hydrolyzing enzyme DNase RNase
22. Function • Storing genetic information
• Directs protein synthesis
• Determines genetic coding
• Directly responsible for metabolic activities, evolution, heredity, and differentiation.
• Transferring genetic information from the DNA to proteins
• Carrying it outside the nucleus
• Translating it to proteins
23. Role as Genetic Material In all organisms other than certain viruses Very rarely (in some viruses)
24. Versatility and Usefulness More stable and holds more complex information for longer periods of time. RNA is more versatile than DNA, capable of performing numerous, diverse tasks in an organism.
25. Stability Due to its deoxyribose sugar, which contains one less oxygen-containing hydroxyl group, DNA is a more stable molecule than RNA. DNA is stable under alkaline conditions. RNA, containing a ribose sugar, is more reactive than DNA and is not stable in alkaline conditions. RNA’s larger helical grooves mean it is more easily subject to attack by enzymes.
26. Ultraviolet (UV) Sensitivity DNA is vulnerable to damage by ultraviolet light. RNA is more resistant to damage from UV light than DNA.
27. Mutation Rate DNA’s mutation rate is relatively lower. RNA’s mutation rate is relatively higher.
28. Unusual Bases Never Maybe present rarely
29. The rate of Renaturation After Melting Relatively slower Quick
30. Types
  • Nuclear DNA
  • Mitochondrial DNA
  • Messenger RNA (mRNA)
  • Transfer RNA (tRNA)
  • Ribosomal RNA (rRNA)

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