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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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Full Answer

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.

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