What Is the Difference Between Ribose and Deoxyribose?

The difference between ribose and deoxyribose is that in ribose, the second carbon atom carries a combination of hydrogen and oxygen atoms known as a hydroyxl group. In deoxyribose, on the other hand, the second carbon atom carries only a hydrogen atom. Ribose and deoxyribose, along with a phosphate atom and a nucleobase, are the building blocks of nucleotides. They make up the backbone chains of RNA and DNA, respectively.

The lack of an oxygen atom in deoxyribose helps the enzymes in organisms to easily distinguish between DNA and RNA molecules. The extra oxygen carried by the ribose molecule prevents RNA from forming a double-stranded structure. This is because the oxygen gives the ribose a partial negative charge that naturally repels the negative charge found in the phosphate atom. Although this makes the RNA molecules more flexible, the double helix structure of DNA molecules is more stable.

DNA and RNA both contain genetic information, but they perform different functions in humans. DNA is responsible for storing and transferring genetic information, whereas RNA is responsible for directly coding for the amino acids that make up the proteins in the human body. RNA also acts as a messenger between the DNA molecules and ribosomes in cells.