Ribonucleic acid

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noun, plural: ribonucleic acids

A nucleic acid that is generally single-stranded , and composed of repeating nucleotide units of ribose sugar, phosphate group, and nitrogenous base


A nucleic acid refers to any of the group of complex compounds consisting of linear chains of monomeric nucleotides. Each nucleotide is composed of phosphoric acid, sugar and nitrogenous base. Nucleic acids may be in the form of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) or ribonucleic acid (RNA).

Ribonucleic acid, or RNA, is a single-stranded nucleic acid as opposed to the deoxyribonucleic acid, which is double-stranded. However, some viral RNAs and siRNA are double-stranded.

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:


  • RNA

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