RNA and DNA are both molecules containing the genetic information that is necessary for life. Both molecules are composed of nucleotides, which are chemical structures consisting of a sugar, a phosphate and a nitrogenous base. Nucleotides are linked by alternating sugar and phosphate bonds.
Though the general structure of the nucleotides in both RNA and DNA is the same, there is a key difference. Each molecule contains a different type of sugar. The sugar in RNA is ribose, while the sugar in DNA is deoxyribose. The full names of DNA and RNA, deoxyribonucleic acid and ribonucleic acid, are derived from the different type of sugar in each molecule.
The alternating sugar and phosphate bonds create long strands in both DNA and RNA. The molecules differ in the number of strands making up each. DNA is double-stranded, shaped like a ladder with rungs between both sides. RNA is single-stranded.
The function of DNA is the storage of genetic information. DNA is located in the nucleus and must remain there. RNA travels from the nucleus through the cell's cytoplasm to the ribosome. It carries the information from the DNA to the ribosome so that it can be decoded to make proteins.
Genetic information is coded by using the chemicals adenine, guanine, thymine and cytosine in DNA. RNA uses the same chemicals as DNA to store genetic information, with the exception of thymine. RNA replaces thymine with a chemical called uracil.