Difference Between DNA and RNA

Technically, ribonucleic acid and deoxyribonucleic acid sure sound alike. But let's face it, in the human body, redundancy does not exist. Check out this article to understand the difference between DNA and RNA.
DNA and RNA are two very different molecules that govern the heredity and evolution of any species. While DNA hogs the limelight as the individual-specific, characteristic-imparting essence, RNA is its lesser-known support entity that performs the actual hands-on job.

DNA is a very frequently used and heard term―sometimes through haunting chemistry lessons and others on high-drama detective-slash-forensic science sitcoms (think Dexter; though that would ideally lean more towards gory murder, but nevertheless).

Evolution, the mighty better-or-eaten-up system that rules all life forms, depends largely on DNA and the variation it brings out. The molecule undoubtedly plays a role of unmatched importance. RNA, on the other hand, has been a silent hero.

Getting started with the brass tacks, DNA and RNA have many differences as listed below.

RNA molecule
DNA molecule

Ribonucleic Acid
Deoxyribonucleic Acid
In case of RNA: • Uracil • Cytosine
In case of DNA: • Thymine • Cytosine
In case of RNA: • Adenine • Guanine
In case of DNA: • Guanine • Adenine
RNA is located in the ribosome
• Inside, as well as outside the nucleus
DNA is located in the chromosome
• Only inside the nucleus
RNA is a single-stranded molecule (mostly)
• Relatively short chain (of nucleotides)
DNA is a double-stranded molecule (mostly)
• Long chain (of nucleotides)
RNA contains oxyribose sugar
• Hydroxyl group present
DNA contains deoxyribose sugar
• Hydroxyl group absent
Types of RNA: • mRNA • tRNA • rRNA
• hnRNA • snRNA • snoRNA • miRNA • siRNA
Types of DNA: • Nuclear DNA • Mitochondrial DNA
Molecular Weight
RNA: 25,000 to 2 million
DNA: 2 to 6 million
Mutation Rate
RNA's mutation rate is relatively higher
DNA's mutation rate is relatively lower
Stability of RNA is low
• Hydrolysis by base―susceptible
(Due to the presence of the hydroxyl group)
Stability of DNA is high
• Hydrolysis by base―resistant
Functions of the RNA are:
• Transferring genetic information from the DNA to proteins
• Carrying it outside the nucleus
• Translating it to proteins
Functions of the DNA are:
• Storing genetic information
• Directs protein synthesis
• Determines genetic coding
• Directly responsible for metabolic activities, evolution, heredity, and differentiation
Role as Genetic Material
In case of RNA: Very rarely (in some viruses)
In case of DNA: In all organisms other than certain viruses
Hydrolyzed by Enzyme
Unusual Bases
In case of RNA: May be present rarely
In case of DNA: Never
Rate of Renaturation After Melting
In case of RNA: Quick
In case of DNA: Relatively slower
RNA is produced by DNA; few can replicate using an RNA template
• Primer: not required for replication
Self-replication is observed in DNA

• Primer: required for replication
Ratio of Bases
In case of RNA:
• Adenine ≠ Thymine
• Guanine ≠ Cytosine
In case of DNA:
• Adenine = Thymine
• Guanine = Cytosine
The number of RNA may differ from cell to cell.
For a particular species, the DNA number remains constant for every cell.

In a gist, RNA and DNA are two very similar molecules, performing vastly different tasks. While structurally they differ only by one hydroxyl group, their functions, importance, and presence in any organism are miles apart.