Difference Between Nucleotide and Nucleoside

Nucleotide and Nucleoside are important building blocks of nucleic acid production. While we say this, Nucleotides are the building blocks whereas Nucleosides are the structural subunits of nucleic acids such as RNA and DNA. Nucleotides and Nucleosides are responsible for inhibiting reverse-transcriptase that is responsible for controlling replication of genetic material of human immunodeficiency virus.

Nucleotide vs Nucleoside

The main difference between Nucleotide and Nucleoside is that Nucleotide is the building block of RNA and DNA formation, whereas Nucleoside occurs after Nucleotide has started its process of formation of the genetic material. A nucleotide is composed of sugar, nitrogenous base, and phosphate group whereas Nucleoside is composed of only nitrogenous base and sugar.

Nucleotide vs Nucleoside

A Nucleotide is a basic component essential for genetic material formation. Any malfunction occurring in Nucleotides causes cancer. They are composed of a nitrogenous base, a five-carbon sugar, and at least one phosphate group. A Nucleotide is formed when a phosphate group is combined with a Nucleoside.

Nucleosides are the subunits in the formation of RNA and DNA. They are composed of nucleobase and five-carbon sugar. They are very essential in the process of biosynthesis of macromolecules and signaling of cells through receptors. They are used as antiviral and anticancer agents. They are responsible for transmitting genetic information.

Comparison Table Between Nucleotide and Nucleoside

Parameters of ComparisonNucleotideNucleoside
DefinitionA nucleotide is the building block of nucleic acid. It has sugar molecules attached to the nitrogenous base and the phosphate group.A nucleoside is a subunit in the formation of nucleic acid, it is included in the Nucleotide. They are the monomeric units in RNA and DNA.
Chemical structureA nucleotide is composed of a nitrogenous base, one or three phosphate groups, and a sugar base. A nucleoside is composed of a nitrogenous base attached to the sugar group without the phosphate group.
Role in nucleic acidOne nucleotide forms covalent bonds with other nucleotides to form a strand of nucleic acid.Nucleoside involves in the phosphorylation process to form Nucleotides.
UsesMalfunction of Nucleotides causes cancer due to the accumulation of DNA. A nucleoside is used as an anticancer and antiviral agent.
ExamplesUridine monophosphate, Guonosine monophosphate, Thymidine monophosphate, Adenosine monophosphate, Cytidine monophosphate.Uridine, Guonosine, Thymidine, Adenosine, and Cytidine.

What is Nucleotide?

A nucleotide is the building block of nucleic acid in the process of DNA and RNA formation. They perform various functions like metabolism enhancement, enzyme reactions, and cell signaling during the process of the formation of nucleic acid. They store the genetic information in the nucleic acids that are formed during the process.

A nucleotide is formed of three components and they are the nitrogenous group, phosphate group, and the five-carbon sugar molecule. There are four types of nitrogenous bases included in the formation of DNA. They are Guanine, Thymine, Cytosine, and Adenine. Nucleotide forms the genetic material in DNA and RNA.

Nucleotide performs various other functions apart from storing genetic information they are moving energy particles, and messengers. They are also involved in reverse-transcriptase for controlling the generation of the genetic material of retrovirus. Malfunctioning of Nucleotides would cause cancer due to the accumulation of damaged DNA over it.

Nucleotides follow a double helical structure in the human DNA model which was proposed by Watson and Crick Model. A single nucleic acid strand is formed using covalent bond formation between two or more Nucleotides. It is composed of nucleoside in it along with more than two phosphate groups as well.

What is Nucleoside?

Nucleosides are the subunits of nucleic acid formation in DNA and RNA. It is composed of a nucleobase and a five-carbon sugar. Nucleobase is either pyrimidine or purine where pyrimidine includes cytosine, uracil, and thymine and purine includes adenine and guanine. The five-carbon sugar is either ribose or deoxyribose. They are connected using covalent bonds.

Nucleosides combine and undergo a phosphorylation process to form Nucleotides. Nucleoside and ribose sugar combine to form ribonucleoside, whereas deoxyribonucleoside is formed during the interaction of a Nucleoside and deoxyribose sugar. It also has a component formed when Nucleoside interacts with pentose sugar.

A nucleoside is used in various human body operations such as biosynthesis of macromolecules, cell signaling operation, intermediary metabolisms, and also as antiviral, anticancer agents in medicine. They also play an important role in transmitting, encoding, and decoding genetic material and genetic information in the human body.

A nucleoside is used in the decomposition of nucleic acid. There are several structures of Nucleosides found such as nitrogenous compounds, sugar, and its identities, size of the ring of the atoms present in sugar molecules based on the attachment between the sugar and nitrogenous components. Nucleosides produced by molds or fungi are known as puromycin.

Main Differences Between Nucleotide and Nucleoside

  1. A nucleotide is the building block of nucleic acid formation, whereas a Nucleotide is the subunit of a nucleic acid formation such as RNA and DNA.
  2. A Nucleotide is composed of nucleobase, sugar carbon base, and phosphate group interlinked with covalent bonds, whereas a nucleoside is composed of nucleobase, and sugar carbon base without the phosphate group and covalent bond.
  3. A Nucleotide is a reason behind a cancer-causing agent when there is a malfunction in the nucleotide there is an accumulation of DNA forming cancer, whereas Nucleoside is used as an antiviral or anticancer agent in medicine.
  4. A nucleotide combines with other nucleotides forming a single strand of nucleic acid, whereas nucleoside forms nucleotides during the process of phosphorylation.
  5. A nucleotide consists of Uridine monophosphate, Thymidine monophosphate, Adenosine monophosphate, Cytidine monophosphate, whereas a nucleoside is composed of uridine, guanosine, thymidine, adenosine, and cytidine without the monophosphate group.


Nucleotide and Nucleoside are very important components involved in the formation of DNA and RNA. They are key components for nucleic acid production which involves enhancing the metabolism of the human body. They are also involved in the transmission of genetic information across the body and coding them as well.

Nucleotide and Nucleoside differ in their chemical composition. A nucleotide consists of nucleobase, sugar group, and phosphate group interlinked using covalent bonds between them, whereas Nucleoside consists of nucleobase and sugar group without the covalent bonds.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/pmc334639/
  2. https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/pdf/10.1146/annurev.bi.54.070185.002055
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