Ribonucleic acid (RNA) is a polymeric molecule implicated in various biological roles in coding, decoding, regulation, and expression of genes. RNA and DNA are nucleic acids, and, along with proteins and carbohydrates, constitute the three major macromolecules essential for all known forms of life. Like DNA, RNA is assembled as a chain of nucleotides, but unlike DNA it is more often found in nature as a single-strand folded onto itself, rather than a paired double-strand. Cellular organisms use messenger RNA (mRNA) to convey genetic information (using the letters G, U, A, and C to denote the nitrogenous bases guanine, uracil, adenine, and cytosine) that directs synthesis of specific proteins. Many viruses encode their genetic information using an RNA genome.
Some RNA molecules play an active role within cells by catalyzing biological reactions, controlling gene expression, or sensing and communicating responses to cellular signals. One of these active processes is protein synthesis, a universal function wherein mRNA molecules direct the assembly of proteins on ribosomes. This process uses transfer RNA (tRNA) molecules to deliver amino acids to the ribosome, where ribosomal RNA (rRNA) then links amino acids together to form proteins.
==Comparison with DNA==
The chemical structure of RNA is very similar to that of DNA
, but differs in three main ways:
* Unlike double-stranded DNA, RNA is a single-stranded molecule〔(【引用サイトリンク】 title =RNA: The Versatile Molecule )
〕 in many of its biological roles and has a much shorter chain of nucleotides.〔(【引用サイトリンク】 title =Nucleotides and Nucleic Acids )
〕 However, RNA can, by complementary base pairing, form intrastrand double helixes, as in tRNA.
* While DNA contains ''deoxyribose
'', RNA contains ''ribose
'' (in deoxyribose there is no hydroxyl group attached to the pentose ring in the 2'
position). These hydroxyl groups make RNA less stable than DNA because it is more prone to hydrolysis
* The complementary base to adenine
in DNA is thymine
, whereas in RNA, it is uracil
, which is an unmethylated
form of thymine.〔
Like DNA, most biologically active RNAs, including mRNA, tRNA, rRNA, snRNAs, and other non-coding RNAs, contain self-complementary sequences that allow parts of the RNA to fold and pair with itself to form double helices. Analysis of these RNAs has revealed that they are highly structured. Unlike DNA, their structures do not consist of long double helices, but rather collections of short helices packed together into structures akin to proteins.
In this fashion, RNAs can achieve chemical catalysis, like enzymes. For instance, determination of the structure of the ribosome—an enzyme that catalyzes peptide bond formation—revealed that its active site is composed entirely of RNA.
抄文引用元・出典: フリー百科事典『 ウィキペディア（Wikipedia）』
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