What is RNA?


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RNA. An illustration of a ribosome is shown. m R N A sits between the large and small subunits. t R N A molecules bind the ribosome and add amino acids to the growing peptide chain.
A ribosome has two parts: a large subunit and a small subunit. The mRNA sits in between the two subunits. A tRNA molecule recognizes a codon on the mRNA, binds to it by complementary base pairing, and adds the correct amino acid to the growing peptide chain.

Source: OpenStax Biology 2e

What is RNA? (OpenStax Biology 2e)

Ribonucleic acid, or RNA, is mainly involved in the process of protein synthesis under the direction of DNA. RNA is usually single-stranded and is comprised of ribonucleotides that are linked by phosphodiester bonds. A ribonucleotide in the RNA chain contains ribose (the pentose sugar), one of the four nitrogenous bases (A, U, G, and C), and the phosphate group.

There are four major types of RNA: messenger RNA (mRNA), ribosomal RNA (rRNA), transfer RNA (tRNA), and microRNA (miRNA). The first, mRNA, carries the message from DNA, which controls all of the cellular activities in a cell. If a cell requires synthesizing a certain protein, the gene for this product turns “on” and the messenger RNA synthesizes in the nucleus. The RNA base sequence is complementary to the DNA’s coding sequence from which it has been copied. However, in RNA, the base T is absent and U is present instead. If the DNA strand has a sequence AATTGCGC, the sequence of the complementary RNA is UUAACGCG. In the cytoplasm, the mRNA interacts with ribosomes and other cellular machinery.

– What is the process by which information from a gene is used in the synthesis of a functional gene product?

The mRNA is read in sets of three bases known as codons. Each codon codes for a single amino acid. In this way, the mRNA is read and the protein product is made. Ribosomal RNA (rRNA) is a major constituent of ribosomes on which the mRNA binds. The rRNA ensures the proper alignment of the mRNA and the Ribosomes. The ribosome’s rRNA also has an enzymatic activity (peptidyl transferase) and catalyzes peptide bond formation between two aligned amino acids. Transfer RNA (tRNA) is one of the smallest of the four types of RNA, usually 70–90 nucleotides long. It carries the correct amino acid to the protein synthesis site. It is the base pairing between the tRNA and mRNA that allows for the correct amino acid to insert itself in the polypeptide chain. MicroRNAs are the smallest RNA molecules and their role involves regulating gene expression by interfering with the expression of certain mRNA messages.

– What is a form of RNA processing in which a newly made precursor messenger RNA (pre-mRNA) transcript is transformed into a mature messenger RNA (mRNA)?

Source: OpenStax Biology 2e

Even though the RNA is single stranded, most RNA types show extensive intramolecular base pairing between complementary sequences, creating a predictable three-dimensional structure essential for their function.

Information flow in an organism takes place from DNA to RNA to protein. DNA dictates the structure of mRNA in a process scientists call transcription, and RNA dictates the protein’s structure in a process scientists call translation. This is the Central Dogma of Life, which holds true for all organisms; however, exceptions to the rule occur in connection with viral infections.

– What is the single-stranded ribonucleic acid (RNA) product synthesized by transcription of DNA, and processed to yield various mature RNA products such as mRNAs, tRNAs, and rRNAs?

Enhancer RNAs represent a class of relatively short non-coding RNA molecules (50-2000 nucleotides) transcribed from the DNA sequence of enhancer regions. The expression of a given eRNA seems to correlate with the activity of its corresponding enhancer in a context-dependent fashion. Increasing evidence suggests that eRNAs actively play a role in transcriptional regulation in cis and in trans, and while their mechanisms of action remain unclear, a few models have been proposed.


Clark, M., Douglas, M., Choi, J. Biology 2e. Houston, Texas: OpenStax. Access for free at: https://openstax.org/details/books/biology-2e





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