Saturday, February 5, 2011
Ribonucleic acid (RNA) is a nucleic acid and 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 which is present in DNA.
Synthesis of RNA
Synthesis of RNA is usually catalyzed by an enzyme—RNA polymerase—using DNA as a template, a process known as transcription. Initiation of transcription begins with the binding of the enzyme to a promoter sequence in the DNA (usually found "upstream" of a gene). The DNA double helix is unwound by the helicase activity of the enzyme.
Nucleotides are organic compounds that consist of three joined structures: a nitrogenous base, a sugar, and a phosphate group. The most common nucleotides can be divided into two groups (purines and pyrimidines) based on the structure of the nitrogenous base. The joined sugar is either ribose or deoxyribose.