What is RNA?

What role does it play?

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RNA is a type of nucleic acid that is structurally identical to DNA but has only a single, spiralling strand of nucleotides. One of its primary functions is to help translate DNA instructions into proteins that can do their jobs.

What is RNA?

As a critical intermediate in the translation of genetic information from DNA into proteins, ribonucleic acid (RNA) is essential to cellular function.

RNA resembles DNA but differs in that it uses the sugar ribose and the nucleotide uracil (U) in place of thymine (T). All of the other bases—adenine (A), cytosine (C), and guanine (G)—are shared by the two molecules as well.

A single helix is formed by the RNA molecule. 

One of RNA's three primary functions is to transport genetic information from the nucleus to the cytoplasm, where proteins are synthesised on ribosomes.

Functions of RNA

Amino acids needed for protein synthesis are snatched up by RNA in the cytoplasm and transported to the ribosomes.

Roughly half of the ribosomal structure is constituted by this component. 

RNA can be broken down into three distinct categories. Each molecule has a single helix as its fundamental structure, but the molecules are organised in extremely different ways and serve very different functions in cells.

Types of RNA

During transcription, mRNA is synthesised in the nucleus on the 3' coding (antisense) strand of DNA. It is possible to predict which polypeptide will be produced by analysing the mRNA that was transcribed. mRNA molecules are tiny, thus they can easily escape through the holes in the nuclear membrane, in contrast to the massive DNA molecules. mRNA molecules travel to the surface of the ribosomes, where they deliver information about the protein to be synthesised from the genes in the nucleus.


Ribosomal RNA (rRNA) is the most abundant type of RNA in cells, and it is responsible for around half of the ribosome's structural makeup. The ribosomal subunit is synthesised in the nucleus and then transported to the cytoplasm, where it assembles with other proteins to create a ribosome.


The cytoplasmic RNA molecule known as transfer RNA (tRNA) has a convoluted structure. It shuttles amino acids from the cell's cytoplasm to the surface of the ribosome, where they can be used to synthesise a protein in accordance with the instructions encoded in messenger RNA.


Protein synthesis, the process by which the instructions in your genes are translated into proteins in your cells, involves a number of different molecules, the most important of which are messenger RNA (mRNA), ribosomal RNA (rRNA), and transfer RNA (tRNA).