Difference Between Deoxyribose and Ribose

Key Difference – Deoxyribose vs. Ribose


 

The key difference between deoxyribose and ribose is that the deoxyribose, the sugar found in DNA, lacks oxygen atom on carbon 2 of the sugar ring while ribose, the sugar found in RNA, has a hydroxyl group on carbon 2 of the sugar ring. Nucleic acids are probably the most fundamental biological molecules. These are capable of storing and transferring genetic information from one generation to the next. The main two nucleic acids in the biological system include; deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and ribonucleic acid (RNA). These polymeric macromolecules are made of basic units known as nucleotides. All the nucleotides consist of three components, a nitrogen-containing (nitrogenous) base, sugar and a phosphate groups. These three components link together to form the nucleotide of DNA and RNA. There are five different nitrogenous bases, three of which (Adenine, guanine and cytosine) are found in both DNA and RNA while thymine is confined to DNA, and uracil occurs only in RNA. Therefore, the presence of thymine or uracil is a good way to distinguished between DNA and RNA. The other major difference between DNA and RNA is the sugar component of their nucleotides; which can be either ribose or deoxyribose. In this article, the difference between deoxyribose and ribose will be discussed.

What is Deoxyribose?

Deoxyribose is the five-carbon sugar found in the nucleotide of DNA molecule. Unlike in ribose sugar, deoxyribose lacks an oxygen atom on carbon 2 of the sugar ring. Hence, it uses the prefix ‘deoxy’. Because of the lack of this oxygen atom, there is no electrostatic negative charge to repeal the negatively charged phosphate. As a result, DNA molecule is twisted to form the characteristic double helix structure of the DNA molecule.

Difference Between Deoxyribose and Ribose

What is Ribose?

Ribose is also a five-carbon sugar but found in RNA molecules. Ribose has a hydroxyl group in carbon 2, which resulting in an electrostatic negative charge for the molecule. Because of this charge, it repels the negatively charged phosphate group attached to the carbon 1 of the ribose, resulting uncoiled RNA molecules, unlike the DNA molecules.

Key Difference - Deoxyribose vs Ribose

What is the difference between Deoxyribose and Ribose?

DNA/RNA:

Deoxyribose is the sugar found in DNA.

Ribose is the sugar found in RNA.

Structure:

Deoxyribose lacks oxygen atom on carbon 2 of the sugar ring.

Ribose has a hydroxyl group on carbon 2 of the sugar ring.

Impact for the final structure:

Due to lack of repulsion between deoxyribose and phosphate groups, DNA molecule gets twisted to form double-helix structure. As a result, DNA is more stable.

Repulsion between ribose and phosphate groups prevents coiling of the RNA molecule. As a result, RNA is more flexible.

 

Image Courtesy:

1. Deoxyribose [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

2. DL-Ribose By akane700 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons