Which Structural Characteristic Is Seen In Rna But Not In Dna?

Which Structural Characteristic is Seen in RNA but Not in DNA?

The study of genetics and molecular biology has revealed several intriguing differences between RNA (ribonucleic acid) and DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). While both RNA and DNA play crucial roles in genetic information storage and protein synthesis, there exists a fundamental structural dissimilarity between the two. This article aims to explain the unique structural characteristic found in RNA but not in DNA, shedding light on its significance and implications in biological processes.

What do we mean by the structural characteristic in RNA?

The structural characteristic in RNA refers to the presence of an additional hydroxyl group (-OH) on the 2′ carbon of the ribose sugar, which is absent in DNA. This hydroxyl group gives RNA its name and distinct structure, differentiating it from DNA. The presence of this hydroxyl group alters the chemical properties of RNA, influencing its functions within the cell.

How is this structural characteristic observed in RNA?

Nucleic acid structure - Wikipedia
Nucleic acid structure – Wikipedia

The presence of the extra hydroxyl group in RNA affects its stability, flexibility, and interaction with other molecules. This structural characteristic allows RNA to adopt complex three-dimensional structures, enabling it to perform diverse functions such as catalyzing enzymatic reactions (ribozymes), regulating gene expression (microRNAs), and participating in protein synthesis (messenger RNA). The additional hydroxyl group also renders RNA more susceptible to degradation by various enzymes present in the cell.

What is known about the significance of this structural difference?

The presence of the hydroxyl group in RNA offers important advantages and functionalities compared to DNA. The additional hydroxyl group provides RNA with enhanced chemical reactivity, enabling it to participate in numerous enzymatic reactions essential for cellular activities. RNA’s ability to form intricate secondary and tertiary structures facilitates its interaction with specific proteins and other molecules, allowing it to perform unique biological functions.


Researchers have exploited the structural difference between RNA and DNA to develop various therapeutic strategies. For instance, the study of small interfering RNA (siRNA) has paved the way for targeted gene silencing, offering potential treatments for genetic disorders and viral infections. Understanding the structural characteristics of RNA provides key insights into its mechanisms, aiding the development of novel drugs and therapeutic interventions.


In conclusion, the structural characteristic seen in RNA, but not in DNA, involving the presence of an additional hydroxyl group on the 2′ carbon of the ribose sugar, plays a fundamental role in RNA’s diverse functions within the cell. This unique structural feature allows RNA to form complex three-dimensional structures, participate in enzymatic reactions, and regulate gene expression. Exploring and understanding this structural distinction not only deepens our comprehension of cellular processes but also opens up new avenues for therapeutic interventions and advancements in molecular biology.

READ TOO : Which Sugar Is Present In The Nucleic Acid That Is Represented In The Diagram?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Can RNA be converted into DNA or vice versa?

A: Yes, a process known as reverse transcription allows the conversion of RNA into DNA, which is then integrated into the genome. This process is utilized by retroviruses, such as HIV, during their replication.

Q: Is RNA more unstable than DNA due to its structural characteristic?

A: Yes, the presence of the extra hydroxyl group makes RNA more susceptible to degradation by enzymes present in the cell. However, this instability is advantageous as it allows for rapid turnover and regulation of RNA molecules in response to changing cellular conditions.

Q: Can RNA have genetic mutations like DNA?

A: Yes, RNA can undergo genetic mutations similar to DNA. These mutations can alter the RNA’s structure and function, potentially leading to diseases or genetic variations that influence an organism’s phenotype.

Q: Are there any known genetic disorders associated with structural differences in RNA?

A: While most genetic disorders are primarily associated with DNA mutations, abnormalities in RNA structure or processing can contribute to certain diseases. For example, myotonic dystrophy is caused by the expansion of repeated RNA sequences, leading to an altered RNA structure and subsequent dysfunction.

Q: What techniques are used to study RNA structure?

A: Experimental techniques such as X-ray crystallography, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, and cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) are commonly employed to investigate and determine the three-dimensional structure of RNA molecules.

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