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RNA stands for ribonucleic acid, and comes in many forms in a wide range of organisms. It is single stranded, and important in processes such as protein synthesis.

RNA (ribonucleic acid) is a form of genetic information. It is similar to DNA, but differs in a few key ways.


How many differences can you spot between RNA and DNA in this picture?



RNA consists of only one strand, which makes it a single-stranded molecule. DNA consists of two strands, forming a double helix.



RNA has the ribose sugar, whereas DNA has a deoxyribose sugar (a ribose sugar lacking one oxygen).



RNA has the bases adenine (A), uracil (U), guanine (G) and cytosine (C). DNA has the bases adenine (A), thymine (T), guanine (G) and cytosine (C).


What base is not present in RNA?

The base that replaces T in RNA is uracil, abbreviated to U. What base does uracil bond with in RNA?


Here is a zoomed-in image of RNA. What is the molecule labelled A?

A) Phosphate B) Ribophosphate C) Phosphoric acid


What is the molecule labelled B?

A) Deoxyribose sugar B) Ribose sugar C) Ribonucleic sugar


What is the molecule labelled C?

A) Uracil B) Uradril C) Uracime


Look at this section of DNA and the RNA copy. What do you think the relationship between RNA and DNA is?

A) RNA is a complementary copy of DNA. B) RNA is a semi-complementary copy of DNA. C) RNA is a non-complementary copy of DNA.

Why do you think the RNA copy of DNA is even made in the first place during protein synthesis?

There are 4 types of RNA, but the one that is important in carrying the protein coding message is mRNA, which is transported elsewhere in the cell. Where does it go?

Another RNA type, called tRNA becomes important once mRNA gets to the ribosome. tRNA carries a certain amino acid to the section of mRNA which codes for that amino acid. What do you think the t in tRNA stands for?

What do you think the m stands for in mRNA?

So the two types of RNA we have looked at in this lesson were...

mRNA: RNA that is produced from a DNA strand, which carries a protein-coding message to the ribosome. tRNA: RNA that works in the ribosome to bring certain amino acids to the mRNA to be joined together in protein synthesis.