30 Differences between DNA and RNA (DNA vs RNA)

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020 by Sagar Aryal

Differences between DNA and RNA (DNA vs RNA)

Differences between DNA and RNA

Some of the differences are:





1.      Full formDeoxyribonucleic Acid Ribonucleic Acid
2.      LocationDNA is found in the nucleus, with a small amount of DNA also present in mitochondria.RNA forms in the nucleolus, and then moves to specialized regions of the cytoplasm depending on the type of RNA formed. 
3.      StructureLong, ladder-like macromolecule that twists to form a double helix.In contrast to the double helix structure of DNA, RNA is generally single stranded.
4.      Helix GeometryThe helix geometry of DNA is of β-form.The helix geometry of RNA is of α-form.
5.      NucleotidesEach DNA nucleotide contains one of four nitrogenous bases, abbreviated A (adenine), G (guanine), T (thymine), or C (cytosine).Contains the nitrogenous base uracil in place of thymine.
6.      Chain of NucleotidesLong chain of nucleotidesRelatively short chains
7.      SugarDNA contains deoxyribose sugar.Contains a different sugar (ribose rather than deoxyribose) in its nucleotides.
8.      Base PairsAdenine and Thymine pair (A-T)

Cytosine and Guanine pair (C-G)

Adenine and Uracil pair (A-U)

Cytosine and Guanine pair (C-G)  

9.      Ratio of BasesIn case of DNA: 
• Adenine = Thymine 
• Guanine = Cytosine
In case of RNA: 
• Adenine ≠ Thymine 
• Guanine ≠ Cytosine
10.   Molecular Weight2 to 6 million25,000 to 2 million
11.   NumberFor a particular species, the DNA number remains constant for every cell.The number of RNA may differ from cell to cell.
12.   MoleculeDNA 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.   PropagationDNA is self-replicating.RNA is synthesized from DNA on an as-needed basis.
14.   Major enzyme involved in propagationDNA polymeraseRNA polymerase
15.   Need of PrimerPrimer necessary to initiate replication.No primer is needed for RNA. 
16.   Proof-reading activityPresent.Absent since RNA polymerase lacks the ability to detect errors of base pairing.
17.   Polymer lengthDNA 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 NucleusDNA can’t leave the nucleus.RNA leaves the nucleus (mRNA).
19.   Complementary formsComplementary forms are mostly between two DNA strands.RNA strand can form complementary structures with strands of either DNA or RNA.
20.   Destruction  and re-useDNA 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 enzymeDNaseRNase
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 MaterialIn all organisms other than certain virusesVery rarely (in some viruses)
24.   Versatility and UsefulnessMore 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.   StabilityDue 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) SensitivityDNA is vulnerable to damage by ultraviolet light. RNA is more resistant to damage from UV light than DNA.
27.   Mutation RateDNA’s mutation rate is relatively lower.RNA’s mutation rate is relatively higher.
28.   Unusual BasesNeverMay be present rarely
29.   Rate of Renaturation After MeltingRelatively slowerQuick
30.   TypesChromosomal DNA (nuclear DNA) and Extra-chromosomal (plasmid DNA, mt- DNA, chl- DNA etc.)Messenger RNA (mRNA) Transfer RNA (tRNA) Ribosomal RNA (rRNA)

hnRNA • snRNA • snoRNA • miRNA • siRNA


  1. https://www.technologynetworks.com/genomics/lists/what-are-the-key-differences-between-dna-and-rna-296719
  2. https://www.thoughtco.com/dna-versus-rna-608191
  3. https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Structural_Biochemistry/Nucleic_Acid/Difference_between_DNA_and_RNA
  4. https://biologywise.com/difference-between-dna-rna

DNA vs RNA Video

Differences between DNA and RNA (DNA vs RNA)

4 thoughts on “30 Differences between DNA and RNA (DNA vs RNA)”

  1. 30th types of DNA is wrong, it’s actually, Chromosomal DNA (nuclear DNA) and Extra-chromosomal(plasmid DNA, mt- DNA, chl- DNA etc.)


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