Difference Between Deoxyribonucleotide and Ribonucleotide

We all are aware of the terms DNA (Deoxyribonucleotide acid) and RNA (Ribonucleotide acid). They both together carry vital genetic information for the movement and function of the cells in our body. It is hard to imagine without these to do usual activities.  

These two microscopic molecules, specifically DNA and RNA, look similar and even work quite similarly. But when it comes to composition, they have some differences. Both of them are mainly composed of a form of nucleotide, namely, deoxyribonucleotide and ribonucleotide. 

Deoxyribonucleotide vs Ribonucleotide 

The main difference between deoxyribonucleotide and ribonucleotide is that the sugar component of deoxyribonucleotide is deoxyribose while ribonucleotide’s sugar compound is ribose. In 2’ carbon, deoxyribonucleotide has an H atom whereas ribonucleotide has an OH atom. When it comes to nitrogenous bases, deoxyribonucleotide consists of thymine, guanine, cytosine, and adenine. On the other hand, ribonucleotide consists of uracil, guanine, cytosine, and adenine.  

Deoxyribonucleotide vs Ribonucleotide

Deoxyribonucleotide is the precursor of a DNA molecule. In the cell, deoxyribose is in the form of nucleotide which is made up of sugars of deoxyribose. Thymine, guanine, adenine, and cytosine are four of the nitrogenous bases which occur in DNA. In the cell, DNA occurs as a type of nucleic acid with the role of the hereditary molecule.  

Ribonucleotide is the precursor of an RNA molecule. In the cell, ribonucleotide is the structure of nucleotide which is made up of sugars of ribose. Uracil, guanine, adenine, and cytosine are a few of the nitrogenous bases which occur in RNA. In the cell, RNA occurs as a form of nucleic acid with the role of involvement in protein synthesis. 

Comparison Table Between Deoxyribonucleotide and Ribonucleotide 

Parameters of Comparison Deoxyribonucleotide Ribonucleotide
InterpretationA nucleotide is a constituent of DNA and contains deoxyribose.A nucleotide is a constituent of RNA and contains ribose.
Basic unitDNARNA
Pentose sugar componentDeoxyriboseRibose
SplicingDo not allowAllow
The molecule at ‘2’ carbonH atomOH atom

What is Deoxyribonucleotide? 

The deoxyribonucleotide is mainly a nucleotide that consists of deoxyribose. They are the monomeric unit of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) which is the informational biopolymer. Each deoxyribonucleotide consists of three parts: a nitrogenous base, one phosphoryl group, and a monosaccharide (a deoxyribose sugar).   

The nitrogenous bases are both pyrimidines and purines, heterocycles whose structures support the base-pairing interactions that allow information to be carried with the help of nucleic acids. The base is bonded to the deoxyribose’s 1’-carbon. In the analog of ribose, the hydrogen atom replaces me hydroxyl group of the 2’-carbon. The phosphoryl group simply attaches itself to the deoxyribose monomer.  

The common forms for the nucleobase or nitrogenous base are guanine, thymine, cytosine, and adenine. Deoxyribonucleotide may be designated based on the number of phosphates that make up the compound are triphosphate (three phosphate groups), diphosphate (two phosphate groups), or monophosphate (one phosphate group). Therefore, the common deoxyribonucleotide includes dAMP, dATP, dADP, dGMP, dGDP, and many more.  

The deoxyribonucleotide is primarily derived from the ribonucleotides. There is no evidence for PP- ribose- P’s deoxyribose homolog. Deoxyribonucleotides may be available from the breakdown of endogenous materials from deoxyribonucleotidic or from dietary constituents. Enzymatic capabilities do exist for the deoxyribonucleotides’ catabolism and their conversion to deoxyribose. 

What is Ribonucleotide? 

A ribonucleotide is also a form of nucleotide in which the ribose is a sugar component. A nucleotide is considered as the nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) basic building block. The common bases for the nucleobase or the nitrogenous base component are uracil, guanine, adenine, and cytosine. The compound without the phosphate group is referred to as nucleoside for instance a nucleobase + pentose sugar.  

For RNA, ribonucleotide serves as a basic building block. When an enzyme ribonucleotide reductase reduces the ribonucleotides then it may also refer to as precursors to deoxyribonucleotides. Ribonucleotide also plays a vital role in cell regulation as well as cell signaling (e.g., AMP or adenosine monophosphate).  

In organisms, ribonucleotide can be synthesized from smaller molecules through the pathway of de novo, or with the help of the salvage pathway, it can be recycled. Both pyrimidines and purines are synthesized from components specifically derived from the precursors of carbon dioxide, amino acids, ammonia, and ribose- 5 phosphates.  

To form RNA strands, ribonucleotide is linked together via phosphodiester bonds. The one nucleotide 5’-phosphate group is linked to the next nucleotide 3’-hydroxyl group which creates a backbone of alternating pentose and phosphates residues. Each end of the polynucleotide does not have a phosphodiester bond. 

Main Differences Deoxyribonucleotide and Ribonucleotide  

  1. In terms of components, deoxyribonucleotide consists of deoxyribose sugar, a phosphate group, and a nitrogenous base. On the flip side, ribonucleotide consists of a ribose sugar, a phosphate group, and a nitrogenous base.  
  2. The nitrogenous bases of deoxyribonucleotide that occur in DNA are thymine, guanine, cytosine, and adenine, while the nitrogenous bases of ribonucleotide that occurs in RNA are uracil, guanine, cytosine, and adenine.  
  3. When it comes to types, deoxyribonucleotide includes dGMP, dUMP, dIMP, dAMP, dTMP, dCMP, and dXMP. But ribonucleotide includes GMP, UMP, IMP, XMP, AMP, CMP, and m5UMP.  
  4. In terms of a pentose sugar, deoxyribonucleotide’s pentose sugar does not contain an OH group at the position of ‘2’, whereas ribonucleotide’s pentose sugar contains an OH group at the position of ‘2’.  
  5. In deoxyribonucleotide, the DNA is the main constituent in which methylated bases occur frequently. On the other hand, the RNA-modified bases occur more frequently. 


It can be concluded that both deoxyribonucleotide and ribonucleotide play an important role in body functions which makes them vital for survival. They are both precursor molecules of nucleic acids. Deoxyribonucleotide and ribonucleotide are made up of phosphate group, nitrogenous base, and pentose sugar. Both the nucleotides contain three common nitrogenous bases as cytosine, guanine, and adenine.  

The deoxyribonucleotide has deoxyribose as its sugar component while ribonucleotide has ribose as its sugar component. The basic unit of deoxyribonucleotide is DNA, whereas RNA is a basic unit of ribonucleotide. Splicing does not allow in deoxyribonucleotide, whereas it does allow in ribonucleotide. They both have an almost similar nitrogenous base but a little different is that deoxyribonucleotide consists of thymine but ribonucleotide contains uracil. 


  1. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07391102.2004.10506998
  2. https://cshperspectives.cshlp.org/content/2/4/a005439.short

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