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Abbreviation for ribonucleic acid: a nucleic acid that is generally single stranded (double stranded in some viruses) and plays a role in transferring information from DNA to protein-forming system of the cell.


Structure: Ribonucleic acid (RNA) is a molecule consisting of a long linear chain of nucleotides. Each nucleotide unit is comprised of a sugar, phosphate group and a nitrogenous base. It differs from a DNA molecule in a way that the sugar backbone is a ribose (deoxyribose in DNA) and the bases are adenine, guanine, cytosine and uracil (thymine in DNA).

Location: In eukaryotes, it is found in the nucleus and in the cytoplasm

Function: In some viruses, RNA is the genetic material. For most organisms, RNAs are involved in:

Compare: DNA

See also: nucleic acid

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