RNA: The Natural Intermediates of Life
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RNA: The Natural Intermediates of Life

So, what is RNA? RNA stands for ribonucleic acid, and although it is fairly similar to DNA, they actually have several varying factors. In contrast to DNA, RNA is usually a single stranded chain of nucleotides, which ultimately causes the RNA to be more versatile and flexible. Since RNA is a single strand, they are able to bend and shape into various conformations that can determine its function. Also, as the name suggests, RNA has a ribose sugar instead of a deoxyribose sugar, where ribose has an additional oxygen atom. Then, instead of the nucleotide thymine, RNA has the nucleotide uracil, which can form two hydrogen bonds, allowing it to pair with either adenine or guanine. However, uracil will pair with adenine in place of thymine for the majority of the time. Uracil further contributes to RNA’s versatility since it is able to bind to both the purines. Also, unlike DNA who acts as only a script, RNA acts like a protein in which they are able to catalyze biological reactions. As you can see, RNA differs from DNA in various aspects.

Have you ever wondered about the process of DNA replication or protein synthesis? Well, have you ever been a part of an organizational group or fraternity? The process of transcription can in a sense be compared to a fraternity, where the intermediates are the different types of RNA who resemble the various committees within an organization.

So, what is RNA? RNA stands for ribonucleic acid, and although it is fairly similar to DNA, they actually have several varying factors. In contrast to DNA, RNA is usually a single stranded chain of nucleotides, which ultimately causes the RNA to be more versatile and flexible. Since RNA is a single strand, they are able to bend and shape into various conformations that can determine its function. Also, as the name suggests, RNA has a ribose sugar instead of a deoxyribose sugar, where ribose has an additional oxygen atom. Then, instead of the nucleotide thymine, RNA has the nucleotide uracil, which can form two hydrogen bonds, allowing it to pair with either adenine or guanine. However, uracil will pair with adenine in place of thymine for the majority of the time. Uracil further contributes to RNA’s versatility since it is able to bind to both the purines. Also, unlike DNA who acts as only a script, RNA acts like a protein in which they are able to catalyze biological reactions. As you can see, RNA differs from DNA in various aspects.

RNA does not stop at just one simple strand; they can be further classified into two main groups, which include functional RNA and messenger RNA. Messenger RNA (mRNA) is a class of RNA utilized towards the information necessary for polypeptide chains, or better known as proteins. Not only do they code for proteins, mRNAs tend to play a big role in gene expression, which is the process in which genes are portrayed through phenotypes. Basically mRNA strands act as the blueprint or plan for the various phenotypes or proteins that are available.

On the other hand, functional RNA is associated with gene expression and regulation, where it is further branched out into smaller subcategories that include transfer RNA, ribosomal RNA, small nuclear RNAs, microRNAs, small interfering RNAs, and long-non-coding RNA. Functional RNAs are never translated into polypeptides, or proteins, instead they act as aids or helpers during the process of transcription. The main classes of functional RNA include transfer RNA (tRNA) and ribosomal RNA (rRNA), which aid in the process of transferring the information of a DNA and turning it into a protein, the regulation of the amounts of RNA and proteins present, and the processing of other RNAs. Next, small nuclear RNAs (snRNAs) are specifically present in eukaryotic cells, in which they are responsible for processing RNA transcripts. Lastly, the last group consists of microRNAs, small interfering RNAs, and Long-noncoding RNAs that suppress the expression of genes at various levels, in addition to maintaining the stability of a genome.

Now, that we have briefly covered the various types of RNAs, you can see how each group can be a compared to a committee because each group has a different blueprint, or DNA script to follow in order to successfully manage or maintain any outcome. Who knew intermediates like RNA can have such an important role?!

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