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Nucleic Acids 101

DNA, Chromosomes, Genes

Nucleic Acid Structure

Watson-Crick Base Pairing

Nucleic Acids & Heredity

DNA Replication

RNA Structure & Function

RNA Synthesis: Transcription

The Genetic Code

Protein Synthesis: Translation

Test Your Knowledge!


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STRUCTURE AND FUNCTION OF RNA


RNA is structurally similar to DNA!

Both nucleic acids are sugar-phosphate polymers and both have nitrogen bases attached to the sugars of the backbone- but there are several important differences.


They differ in composition:

1

The sugar in RNA is ribose, not the deoxyribose in DNA (as we previously learned).

2

The base uracil is present in RNA instead of thymine.


They also differ in size and structure:

1

RNA molecules are smaller (shorter) than DNA molecules,

2

RNA is single-stranded, not double-stranded like DNA.


Another difference between RNA and DNA is in function. DNA has only one function-STORING GENETIC INFORMATION in its sequence of nucleotide bases. But there are three main kinds of ribonucleic acid, each of which has a specific job to do.


1

Ribosomal RNAs-exist outside the nucleus in the cytoplasm of a cell in structures called ribosomes. Ribosomes are small, granular structures where protein synthesis takes place. Each ribosome is a complex consisting of about 60% ribosomal RNA (rRNA) and 40% protein.

2

Messenger RNAs-are the nucleic acids that "record" information from DNA in the cell nucleus and carry it to the ribosomes and are known as messenger RNAs (mRNA).

3

Transfer RNAs-The function of transfer RNAs (tRNA) is to deliver amino acids one by one to protein chains growing at ribosomes.


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