DNA – deoxyribonucleic acid – is widely known as the molecule found in the nucleus of all our cells that contains genetic information.
It is shaped like a double helix and is made up of small sections called nucleotides.
Each nucleotide contains a nucleobase, a sugar and a phosphate group.
The sugar component in this particular molecule is called deoxyribose and makes up D in DNA.
It is a cyclic carbon chemical with five carbon atoms arranged like a pentagon.
A single hydrogen atom in deoxyribose is attached to the second carbon atom.
This may have additional oxygen.
In this case, the oxygen chemical forms the so-called simple ribose ̵
The deoxy prefix literally means without oxygen.
Form of RNA and DNA
RIbose can do almost anything deoxyribose can, and it also encodes genetic information in certain cells and organisms.
When oxygen is present, it drastically changes the way chemicals bind and sit together with other molecules.
When oxygen is present – in RNA – it can take various forms.
When oxygen is not present at this specific site – in DNA – the molecule is formed as the iconic double helix.
Use of RNA
DNA is often broken down into RNA and read by cells to translate and transcribe the genetic code to make proteins and other molecules essential for life.
RNA uses three of the same base pairs as DNA: cytosine, guanine, adenine.
The major thymine pair, thymine, is replaced in uracil RNA.
RNA is often found in simpler organisms, such as bacteria.
It is often a virus, with hepatitis, influenza and HIV all forms of RNA.
All animal cells use DNA, with one notable exception: mitochondria.
Mitochondria are the cells of the cell and convert glucose into pyruvate and then into adenosine triphosphate (ATP) through the Krebs cycle.
This process takes place in this organelle in the cells and ATP is the universal form of energy and is used in every aerobic organism.
There is a small strand of RNA in the mitochondria that is unique in the animal kingdom.
It is transmitted exclusively by the mother (the father’s life in the semen, but dissolves during fertilization) and allows people to trace their lineages through the maternal line over time.