Biology: differences between DNA and RNA

Heading into another biology conference, the tutor offers a prelude about DNA vs RNA.

DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid; RNA indicates ribonucleic acid. Not surprisingly, both types of molecules are classified as nucleic acids. What are they used for, and what are their differences?

In the human body, DNA stores the genetic code – the blueprints of how to build the proteins of the body. Except for eggs and sperm, each body cell contains a complete set of DNA for that person, aka, that person’s genome.

RNA, on the other hand, is used in various ways to manufacture proteins from the blueprints found in the DNA.

Some chemical differences between DNA and RNA:

  1. DNA contains the sugar deoxyribose, while RNA contains ribose.
  2. RNA substitutes the base uracil for DNA’s thymine.
  3. DNA is double-stranded; RNA, single.
  4. DNA has the famous helix shape; RNA doesn’t.

I’ll be talking more about nucleic acids in a coming post:)


Mader, Sylvia S. Inquiry into Life, 9th Ed. Toronto: McGraw-Hill, 2000.

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

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