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RNA is essential in the human body, and it works closely with DNA.  Find out what RNA is, and what it does in the body.

What is RNA?

RNA is a nucleic acid and RNA stands for ribose nucleic acid.  It is one of two nucleic acids that are found in cells – the other being DNA (deoxyribose nucleic acid).  DNA is the materials that make up the genes and chromosomes within the cells, and these carry the genetic blueprint that controls the body and makes each person individual.  DNA carries a code for making proteins, and the different proteins that it tells the cells to make lead not only to differences between varying types of cells but also the differences between people.

DNA is in the nucleus of the cell but the proteins themselves are made in the ribosomes, which are microscopic structures in the cytoplasm of the cell which surrounds the nucleus.  The RNA carries the blueprints for making the proteins from the DNA to the nucleus in the ribosomes.  Basically speaking, RNA acts as a messenger – carrying instructions from the DNA to the ribosomes.  Once the ribosomes receive the blueprint from the RNA for the protein that is to be made, they bring together the necessary amino acids and build them into polypeptides and proteins.

Types of RNA 

There are three types of RNA:

• Ribosomal RNA – this is rRNA.  Most of the RNA in cells is associated with smaller cell structures called ribosomes, which make proteins in the cell.  Ribosomes are the site of translation, where mRNA arrives with genetic instructions for building proteins from amino acids delivered by tRNA.
• Messenger RNA – this is mRNA.  This is a copy of the genetic information that was transcribed from the cell’s DNA and is like a blueprint of that information.  It is brought to the ribosome and translated into protein with the help of tRNA.
• Transfer RNA – this is tRNA.  It is part of the process of translation and brings the amino acid coded for by mRNA and these amino acids are joined together to form proteins.


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