Structural Biochemistry/Nucleic Acid/Difference between DNA and RNA

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DNA and RNA are different form their structure, functions and stabilities

Predominant structure[edit]

DNA is a double-stranded molecule with a long chain of nucleotides while RNA is single-stranded molecule, in most of its biological roles and has a shorter chain of nucleotides (after transcription and slicing, only exons remain in RNA). DNA exists mainly in a double helix form while RNA will take on many different shapes and sizes such as the 'hair pin formation'. DNA is used to carry an organism's genetic information while RNA takes on many different roles, for instance, RNA can act as an enzyme such as ribozyme. There is one single type of DNA while there are many types of RNA that have different functions such as mRNA (carries DNA message to cytoplasm), tRNA (carries amino acids to mRNA and Ribosomes), rRNA (Ribosomal RNA, workbench for protein synthesis). DNA cannot catalyze its own synthesis while RNA can. This supports the RNA World Hypothesis. The pairing of bases in DNA including A-T(Adenine-Thymine) and G-C(Guanine-Cytosine)is different to that of RNA including A-U(Adenine-Uracil) and G-C(Guanine-Cytosine).

Bases and sugar[edit]

DNA is a long polymer with deoxyriboses and phosphate backbone. Having four different nitrogenous bases: adenine, guanine, cytosine and thymine. RNA is a polymer with a ribose and phosphate backbone. Four different nitrogenous bases: adenine, guanine, cytosine, and uracil.

Ribofuranose-2D-skeletal.png Structure of ribose in RNA Deoxyribose structure.svg Structure of deoxyribose in DNA

Function[edit]

DNA is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms. It is a medium of long-term storage and transmission of genetic information, while RNA is a nucleic acid polymer that plays an important role in the process of translating genetic information from deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) into protein products. RNA acts as a messenger between DNA and the protein synthesis complexes known as ribosomes.

Both DNA and RNA starts synthesis in the 5'-3' direction. However, no primer is needed for RNA. In addition, RNA polymerase lacks the ability to detect errors of base pairing, a trait that DNA polymerase is capable of doing.

Stability[edit]

Deoxyribose sugar in DNA is less reactive because of C-H bonds on the second carbon (C2). DNA is stable in alkaline conditions. It has smaller grooves where the damaging enzyme can attach which makes it harder for the enzyme to attack DNA; RNA, on the other hand, has larger grooves which makes it easier to be attacked by enzymes. RNA, ribose sugar is more reactive because of the presence of hydroxyl group on C2. RNA is not stable in alkaline conditions because bases can easily deprotonate the Hydrogen from the -OH on C2. After deprotonation, the negatively charged oxygen may attack the Phosphate at the PO4, kicking off the Oxygen connected to the 5'C of next nucleotide over, resulting in hydrogenation.

Unique feature[edit]

The helix geometry of DNA is of β-Form. DNA is completely protected by the body i.e. the body destroys enzymes that cleave DNA. DNA can be damaged by exposure to ultra-violet rays. The helix geometry of RNA is of α-Form. RNA strands are continually made, broken down and reused. RNA is more resistant to damage by ultra-violet rays.

Comparison Chart[edit]

For those of you who learn better when comparing side by side : )

DNA RNA
Structural Name: Deoxyribonucleic Acid Ribonucleic Acid
Function: Medium of long-term storage and transmission of genetic information. Transfer the genetic code needed for the creation of proteins from the nucleus to the ribosome. This process prevents the DNA from having to leave the nucleus, so it stays safe. Without RNA, proteins could never be made.
Structure: Typically a double- stranded molecule with a long chain of nucleotides. A single-stranded molecule in most of its biological roles and has a shorter chain of nucleotides.
Bases/Sugars: Long polymer with a deoxyribose and phosphate backbone and four different bases: adenine, guanine, cytosine and thymine. Shorter polymer with a ribose and phosphate backbone and four different bases: adenine, guanine, cytosine, and uracil.
Base Pairing: A-T (Adenine-Thymine), G-C (Guanine-Cytosine) A-U (Adenine-Uracil), G-C (Guanine-Cytosine)
Stability: Deoxyribose sugar in DNA is less reactive because of C-H bonds. Stable in alkaline conditions. DNA has smaller grooves where the damaging enzyme can attach which makes it harder for the enzyme to attack DNA. Ribose sugar is more reactive because of C-OH (hydroxyl) bonds. Not stable in alkaline conditions. RNA on the other hand has larger grooves which makes it easier to be attacked by enzymes.
Unique Traits: The helix geometry of DNA is of B-Form. DNA is completely protected by the body i.e. the body destroys enzymes that cleave DNA. DNA can be damaged by exposure to Ultra-violet rays. The helix geometry of RNA is of A-Form. RNA strands are continually made, broken down and reused. RNA is more resistant to damage by Ultra-violet rays.