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).
Function: In some viruses, RNA is the genetic material. For most organisms, RNAs are involved in:
- protein synthesis (e.g. mRNA, tRNA, rRNA, etc.)
- post-transcriptional modification or DNA replication (e.g. snRNA, snoRNA, etc.)
- gene regulation (e.g. miRNA, siRNA, tasiRNA, etc.)
See also: nucleic acid