Difference between RNA and DNA in Shape, Chemistry, Function etc.

DNA and RNA are both nucleic acids that are present in almost all living cells. The differences between RNA and DNA are

  1. Structural
  2. Chemical and
  3. Functional.

Difference between RNA and DNA

Difference between RNA and DNA
Structural and chemical Difference between RNA and DNA
1ShapeRNA is present as a single strand in the form of a hairpin or loop structure. It may also have secondary and tertiary structures.DNA is present in the shape of an anti-parallel helix with the 3′ end bonded with the 5′ end.
2LengthRNA is shorter with fewer nucleotides.DNA is very long, and each strand has more nucleotides than RNA
3LocationmRNA is present in the nucleolus, while tRNA and rRNA are present in the cytoplasm.DNA is present in the nucleus, nucleolus, and extra-chromosomal DNA is present in mitochondria and chloroplasts.
4TypesmRNA (messenger), tRNA
(transfer) and rRNA (ribosomal structural) are the main types.
Different types of DNA like aDNA, bDNA (main form), cDNA, etc., are present.
5Life spanRNA has a shorter life span.DNA has a longer life span.
6StabilityRNA is less stable comparativelyDNA is very stable comparatively as they have to carry genetic information to the subsequent offspring.
7.Sugar moietyThe sugar present is D-ribose.The sugar present is D-
8Nucleotide basesBases present are adenine,
guanine, uracil, and cytosine.
Bases present are adenine,
guanine, thymine and
9Bases rationThe number of purines and
pyrimidines are mostly not
The number of purines and
pyrimidine are equal as per the chargraff rule.
10FormationRNA is formed from DNA transcription. DNA is formed by self-replication.
11FunctionRNA is involved in protein synthesis and also acts as an enzyme in few reactions.DNA is involved in the formation of RNA and also in cell division.

Structural differences

The two nucleotides differ in the number of strands. And as seen before, the DNA is made of two strands of nucleic acids while RNA is made of one strand of nucleic acids.

The double helix structure gives more stability and is less prone to changes over time.

Chemical differences

dna vs rna


The two differ in terms of the sugar molecule and the pyrimidine bases.

DNA has deoxyribose sugar while RNA has ribose sugar monomer. 

For pyrimidines, DNA has thymine while RNA has uracil.


DNA is the memory of the organism’s structure and physiology. It produces the characters of the organism and even passes them on to the next generation.

RNA is meant to form proteins and its role is to pass on information from DNA to the cell.


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