Nucleotides in RNA

Ribonucleic acids, also called RNA, is the intermediary molecule used by organisms to translate the information in DNA* to proteins. RNA is also required for DNA replication, regulates gene expression, and can function as an enzyme.

Like DNA, RNA is a polymer - made up of chains of nucleotides*. These nucleotides have three parts:

  1. A five-carbon ribose sugar
  2. A phosphate molecule
  3. One of four nitrogenous bases: adenine, guanine, cytosine, or uracil

RNA nucleotides form polymers of alternating ribose and phosphate units linked by a phosphodiester bridge between the #3 and #5 carbons of neighboring ribose molecules.

RNA nucleotides differ from DNA nucleotides by a hydroxyl group linked to the #2 carbon of the sugar. This hydroxyl group allows RNA polymers to assume a more diverse number of shapes compared to DNA polymers. The extra hydroxyl group also makes RNA polymers less stable than DNA polymers. The greater variety of shapes RNA polymers form is part of the reason RNA serves more functions than DNA.

Test your understanding of the concepts covered by answering the Nucleotides in RNA practice problems

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