Related topics: dna · genes · protein · gene expression · cells

A new RNA catalyst from the lab

Enzymes enable biochemical reactions that would otherwise not take place on their own. In nature, it is mostly proteins that function as enzymes. However, other molecules can also perform enzymatic reactions—for example ...

Small RNA as a central player in infections

More than half of the world's population carries the bacterium Helicobacter pylori in their stomach mucosa. It often causes no problems throughout life, but sometimes it can cause inflammation, and in some cases, it can even ...

Nanoparticles can turn off genes in bone marrow cells

Using specialized nanoparticles, MIT engineers have developed a way to turn off specific genes in cells of the bone marrow, which play an important role in producing blood cells. These particles could be tailored to help ...

Breaking COVID-19's 'clutch' to stop its spread

Scripps Research chemist Matthew Disney, Ph.D., and colleagues have created drug-like compounds that, in human cell studies, bind and destroy the pandemic coronavirus' so-called "frameshifting element" to stop the virus from ...

Studying gene function in animal models

Researchers from the group of Jeroen Bakkers have described a thorough way to study the function of genes in model animals such as the zebrafish. In their study, published in Nature on September 23rd, they give an example ...

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RNA

Ribonucleic acid (RNA) is a biologically important type of molecule that consists of a long chain of nucleotide units. Each nucleotide consists of a nitrogenous base, a ribose sugar, and a phosphate. RNA is very similar to DNA, but differs in a few important structural details: in the cell, RNA is usually single-stranded, while DNA is usually double-stranded; RNA nucleotides contain ribose while DNA contains deoxyribose (a type of ribose that lacks one oxygen atom); and RNA has the base uracil rather than thymine that is present in DNA.

RNA is transcribed from DNA by enzymes called RNA polymerases and is generally further processed by other enzymes. RNA is central to the synthesis of proteins. Here, a type of RNA called messenger RNA carries information from DNA to structures called ribosomes. These ribosomes are made from proteins and ribosomal RNAs, which come together to form a molecular machine that can read messenger RNAs and translate the information they carry into proteins. There are many RNAs with other roles – in particular regulating which genes are expressed, but also as the genomes of most viruses.

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