Difference Between DNA and RNA

December 17, 2015 by Editorial Team

With the advancements in medical science, we hear a lot about DNA and RNA but many of us do not understand what these two terms stand for and what purpose they serve. The best explanation of these terms is that they are two types of nucleic acids which are polymers found in all living cells.

Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) is found mainly in the nucleus of the cell, while Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) is found mainly in the cytoplasm of the cell, although it is usually synthesized in the nucleus.


DNA, the short form for deoxyribonucleic acid, is like a blueprint of biological guidelines that a living organism must follow to exist and remain functional. DNA’s genes are expressed through the proteins that its nucleotides produce with the help of RNA.

DNA and RNA structure

RNA is the short form for ribonucleic acid and helps to carry out the biological blueprint’s guidelines which come from DNA. It transfers genetic code needed for the creation of proteins from the nucleus to the ribosome.

RNA is more versatile than DNA, capable of performing numerous, diverse tasks in an organism, but DNA is more stable and holds more complex information for longer periods of time.


What is the difference between DNA and RNA? Many of us have heard of the terms DNA and RNA but fail to comprehend the basic difference between the two and why they are so important for our bodies.

The main thing which sets DNA and RNA apart is the presence of sugar in their molecules. The sugar present in a RNA molecule is called ribose and the sugar present in a molecule of DNA is deoxyribose. There is not much difference between deoxyribose and ribose, except that deoxyribose has one more OH. Also, while DNA is double stranded and is present as a tightly-associated pair of molecules which are just like two long strands entwined in the shape of a double helix while, RNA is single stranded.

DNA is found in the nucleus of a cell and in mitochondria but RNA is found in a cell’s nucleus, its cytoplasm, and its ribosome depending on its type.

DNA molecules are identifiers found in the body and serve as a genetic blueprint that determines biological characteristics. A DNA molecule consists of approximately 3 billion base pairs, which are known as the building blocks of DNA. DNA is found in nearly every cell in the body.

It is the DNA that helps to determine the nature of an organism’s biology, how it will look and function, based on information passed down from former generations through reproduction. On the other hand, RNA has several interconnected functions that depend on its type which include getting genetic information from the DNA and passing it to the cell’s cytoplasm and ribosome, transforming amino acids, the core components of proteins to the mRNA in a ribosome and creating and synthesizing polypeptide or protein.

Comparison Chart

DNA contains the sugar deoxyriboseRNA contains the sugar ribose which has one more -OH group than deoxyribose, which has -H attached to the second (2′) carbon in the ring
DNA is a double stranded moleculeRNA is a single stranded molecule
DNA is stable under alkaline conditionsRNA is not stable under alkaline conditions
DNA is responsible for storing and transferring genetic information in human beingsRNA directly codes for amino acids and as acts as a messenger between DNA and ribosomes to make proteins
DNA uses the bases adenine, thymine, cytosine, and guanineRNA uses adenine, uracil, cytosine, and guanine
DNA is found in the nucleus of a cell and in mitochondriaRNA is found in a cell’s nucleus, its cytoplasm, and its ribosome
DNA can become vulnerable and can be damaged with exposure to UVRNA is comparatively more resistant to UV damage