4 Things You Should Know About Ribonucleic Acid
When it comes to knowledge, we’re lucky enough to live in times where it is easily accessible. RNA or Ribonucleic Acid is a linear molecule that carries the same information as the DNA, however, RNA is not for long-term storage. When compared to DNA, you can say that RNA is like a copy of a reference book. Through transcription, it is synthesized from DNA by an RNA polymerase enzyme. Some RNA molecules are passive copies of DNA, however, others participate in switching genes on and off and makeup protein synthesis machinery in ribosomes.
RNA is kind of the middle man in the way from DNA to protein. However, many viruses store their genetic information in RNA without a DNA predecessor like for example, the Covid-19 virus and HIV. Read on to find out what are the 4 things you should know about Ribonucleic acid.
1. RNA Structure
RNA is a single-stranded biopolymer with a three-dimensional structure, which is vital to its function and stability. The RNA strand has a self-complementary sequence which leads to the folding of the ribonucleotide chain and intrachain pairing it into complex structural forms. RNA can form ribonucleoproteins, which are complexes with molecules. Its structure allows the nitrogenous bases and ribose sugar to be modified in several ways by the cellular enzymes. These modifications can lead to complex contortions in the RNA chain.
2. There Are 3 Most-Well Known Types
RNA has many types; however, 3 of them are commonly studied. There is the messenger RNA (mRNA), transfer RNA (tRNA), and ribosomal RNA (rRNA), all of which are found in all organisms. Although their biochemical reactions are similar to those done by enzymes, some have complex regulatory functions in cells. RNAs are abundant with various functions and are involved in many regulatory processes, and that is why RNAs have a crucial role in diseases and normal cellular processes.
Scientists can study the effect of treatments by quantifying the activity of RNA in biological samples. The use of a platform for RNA-seq data analysis to learn more about different viruses and their treatments helps scientists and researchers in their experiments and studies. These platforms create a real-time collaborative environment for scientists of diverse fields and levels.
3. RNA and Disease Connection
Science has proven that there are connections between RNA and human diseases. For example, some of the miRNAs can facilitate tumor development by regulating cancer-associated genes. Also, Alzheimer’s disease is connected to the dysregulation of miRNA metabolism. Moreover, tRNAs can bind to specialized proteins that are involved in programmed cell death.
Other than these examples, there are other connections that have been discovered between different types of RNA and diseases, and many more additional links between different types of RNA and other diseases are expected to be discovered in the future. A better understanding of RNA and its functions can facilitate such important discoveries and connections that can lead to new treatments.
4. RNA’s Regulatory Zoo
Researchers have discovered a menagerie of RNA that functions differently as they are able to regulate genes. They can influence the rate at which genes are expressed. IncRNAs affect the genes by associating with DNA complexes and chromatin. They can activate and inactivate sections of chromatin. More RNA types have been found in other organisms like small RNA regulators that are bacteria host analogs to miRNA and siRNA. Moreover, RNA binds to the CRISPR DNA sequences, which identify invaders.
In short, Ribonucleic acid is a nucleic acid that has the same structure as the DNA but with little differences like RNA being single-stranded, compared to DNA having more than one strand. RNA is used by cells to transfer information from genomes into proteins by translation and carry amino acids to the translation site to get assembled into chains of proteins. In the past it was believed that RNA has only 3 major roles; DNA photocopy, coupler between genetic codes and protein building blocks, and is a structural component of ribosomes. However, lately, science has discovered that RNA has much broader roles.
Some of these recently discovered interesting roles are that RNA can act as enzymes and speed chemical reactions, and in some viruses, RNA carries the viral genetic information, not the DNA. Moreover, many human diseases are connected to RNAs like heart disease, types of cancers, and many more.
Nowadays, the world is facing many challenges that resulted from different diseases and viruses like the hit of Covid-19, for example. To find treatments and cures to the present and coming pandemics, we need more studies and research to better understand RNAs and their connections with viruses and their treatments.
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