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How does DNA differ from RNA?

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Quick Answer

DNA is a stable, double helix that functions in long-term storage of genetic material, while RNA is a reactive, single helix that transfers information. There are also slight differences in base pairs between DNA and RNA.

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The sugar deoxyribose makes up DNA while RNA utilizes ribose. This means that DNA contains carbon to hydrogen bonds, making it very stable. RNA, on the other hand, contains more reactive oxygen to hydrogen bonds. The double helix structure of DNA involves small grooves that provide little space for enzyme attachment, but the single strand of RNA has larger, more spacious grooves. Because of these structural differences, DNA is much more stable and more suitable for long-term storage of genetic information as it degrades very little over time. RNA is fairly reactive and is subject to frequent recycling and reformation; this makes RNA a better candidate for the transference of genetic material. Both DNA and RNA use adenine, guanine and cytosine as base pairs, but DNA contains thymine while RNA contains uracil.

DNA is a self-replicating molecule, capable of replenishing itself whereas RNA forms, when the need arises, from DNA. Despite the relative stability of DNA, it is actually more vulnerable to damage from ultraviolet radiation than RNA.

DNA is self-replicating and serves the function of storing and transferring genetic data from one cell to another during reproduction through chromosomes. Chromosomes contain genetic information necessary for cell reproduction and the determination of individual traits in new organisms. RNA is synthesized from DNA, and its stored genetic information is utilized in proteins called amino acids. These proteins are delivered to cell components called ribsosomes, which are responsible for the determination of specific cell functions and gene expression.

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