DNA vs mRNA: Difference and Comparison

Human anatomy is difficult to understand yet very interesting; humans have internal body parts and reactions that influence their daily activities. All these reactions are very complex and cannot be seen from the outside.

Eating habits, sleep patterns, bowel cycles, thinking, etc., are the results of chemical reactions inside the body. There are different components in the body in which these chemical reactions are done to make the body work properly.

The smallest unit of the body is the cell, which is present in large quantities and thus plays a vital role in the human body. Within these cells, there are a lot of components present which further help to maintain the structure.

One of the most critical functions of cells is the inheritance of genetic material. The genetic material is responsible for the traits being carried onto the offspring; the resemblance of offspring with parents results from this genetic material.

Genes are predominantly responsible for genetic material. Genes have DNA and RNA, which contain characteristics of one human being, which are further transferred to offspring through reproduction.

Key Takeaways

  1. DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is a double-stranded molecule that stores genetic information, blueprinting all cellular processes and inherited traits.
  2. mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid) is a single-stranded molecule responsible for carrying genetic information from DNA to ribosomes for protein synthesis.
  3. DNA and mRNA are nucleic acids involved in transmitting genetic information, but DNA stores the information, while mRNA serves as a messenger during protein synthesis.


The difference between DNA and mRNA is their composition. DNA and mRNA both carry genetic material but still have differences in their composition and location in the body, and so on.

DNA vs mRNA 1

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Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonDNAmRNA
Sugar componentDeoxyribose sugarRibose sugar
Pyrimidine presenceThymine as pyrimidineUracil is pyrimidine
LifeLong lifeShort life
LocationPresent in nucleusDiffuses into cytoplasm


What is DNA?

DNA is an abbreviation of Deoxyribonucleic acid; it is a molecule composed of two polynucleotide chains that coil around each other to form a double helix, carrying the genetic instructions.

There are three major forms of DNA: A form, B form, and Z form. These forms are double-stranded and connected by interactions between complementary base pairs. There are around 3 billion DNA base pairs, which make one genome.

The major functions of DNA are to encode the sequence of amino acids, mutations and recombination of genetic material and to determine genetic characteristics.DNA is responsible for carrying genetic material.

DNA is present in cells’ nuclei, known as nuclear DNA small amount of DNA is also seen in the cell’s powerhouse, which is mitochondria. They are present in eukaryotic cells; these are double-stranded structures.

DNA is made up of three components; those are sugar molecules (deoxyribose), phosphoric acid and a nitrogenous base.  Four nitrogenous bases are further divided into purines (two-ring structures- adenine and guanine) and pyrimidines (two single-stranded structures- cytosine and thymine).

A structure model in DNA proposes that the number of purines and pyrimidines are equal to each other, and the amount of adenine is equal to the amount of thymine. 

Friedrich Miescher, a swiss chemist, founded DNA in the 1860s. However, some took the names of James Watson, an American biologist, and Francis crick, an English physicist, but later on, Friedrich Miescher was approved as the founder of DNA.


What is mRNA?

mRNA is an abbreviation of messenger ribonucleic acid; these are single-stranded molecules of RNA that correspond to a gene’s genetic sequences and are read by ribosomes in synthesizing a protein.

The composition is similar to DNA’s but different as DNA comprises deoxyribose, whereas mRNA consists of ribose sugar molecules. mRNA is created during the process of transcription.

Transcription is the process of conversion of genes into primary transcript mRNA with the help of enzymes. mRNA is single-stranded strands of nucleotides known as ribonucleic acids or RNA. RNA is of three types; mRNA, tRNA, and rRNA.

Function mRNA is to read base sequences of ribosomes, using the genetic code to translate each three-base triplet or codon into its corresponding amino acid. It possesses all the basic characteristic differences of RNA.

mRNA is present in prokaryotic cells and carries genetic information from chromosomal DNA to the cytoplasm for the synthesis of proteins. The lifespan of mRNA is very short. Among the four nitrogenous bases, thymine is replaced by uracil.

RNA helps synthesise protein in the body. After synthesis, the acid moves out from the nucleus into the cytoplasm, where it is deposited in ribosomes, which further helps make proteins.

The discovery of mRNA was made by  Sydney Brenner, Francis Crick, Francois Jacob, and Jacques Monod; with these discoveries, it became clear that genes help make proteins.


Main Differences Between DNA and mRNA

  1. DNA is present in eukaryotic cells, whereas mRNA is in prokaryotic cells.
  2. DNA is made up of deoxyribose sugar. On the contrary, mRNA is made up of ribose sugar.
  3. DNA is double-stranded, whereas mRNA is single-stranded.
  4. DNA has a long life. On the contrary, mRNA has a short life.
  5. DNA is present in the nucleus, while mRNA diffuses into the cytoplasm.
  6. DNA has thymine as one of the pyrimidines, whereas mRNA has uracil as it’s a pyrimidine.
Difference Between DNA and mRNA

  1. https://www.jbc.org/content/270/14/8037.short
  2. https://www.pnas.org/content/102/42/15048.short

Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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21 thoughts on “DNA vs mRNA: Difference and Comparison”

  1. Avatar of Stefan Robertson
    Stefan Robertson

    For those with scientific backgrounds, this article provides a comprehensive insight into cellular processes and genetic material.

  2. This article on DNA and mRNA is quite informative, although a few elements could be presented in a more engaging way.

  3. The details about DNA and mRNA are fascinating, but for non-scientific audiences, this might be a bit heavy to absorb.

    1. I think it’s important to know about these differences, especially when it comes to genetic material.

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