Difference Between DNA and mRNA


Nucleic acids are large macromolecules found in all known forms of life. There are two types of nucleotides namely; DNA and RNA. mRNA is classified under RNA. In both DNA and mRNA, genetic information is encoded in the sequence of nucleotides, which are arranged into codons. Each codon consists of three bases and encodes for a specific amino acid with the exception of stop codon, which terminates protein synthesis process.


DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) molecules are the basic genetic material found in almost all the organisms (except some viruses). The main functions of these molecules are to store heredity information and control protein synthesis. DNA molecule is mainly composed of units called nucleotides, which are polymerized to form long chains called polynucleotide chains. A DNA molecule has two long polynucleotide chains, which are coiled into a double helix structure. Each nucleotide is composed of three smaller parts; a phosphate group, a deoxyribose sugar, and nitrogenous bases (adenine, thymine, cytosine, and guanine). Eukaryotes store most of their DNA inside the nucleus while prokaryotes store their DNA in the cytoplasm. In humans, DNA contains about 3 billion bases of genes and each human cell has 46 double stranded DNA.


Messenger RNA (mRNA) is a main type of RNA found in organisms, which is formed in the nucleus as a complementary strand to DNA template by transcription. Like all other RNAs, mRNA is single stranded and composed of ribose sugar, nucloebases (adenine, cytosine, guanine and uracil), and a phosphate group. The main function of mRNA is to direct the synthesis of proteins by carrying the coding information from a DNA template to the site of protein synthesis, the ribosomes.

What is the difference between DNA and mRNA?

• mRNA molecules are synthesized from the DNA templates by transcription.

• mRNA consists of only one nucleotide chain (single stranded) while DNA consists two chains (Double stranded).

• In DNA, the sugar is deoxyribose whereas, in mRNA, the sugar is ribose.

• mRNA consists the base uracil instead of thymine in DNA.

• Unlike mRNA, DNA has double helix structure.

• DNA stores genetic information of an organism and controls the protein production, whereas mRNA directs the synthesis of proteins.

• In eukaryotes, DNA present in the nucleus. In contrast, mRNA synthesizes in the nucleus and later diffuses into the cytoplasm.

• DNA molecules are larger than mRNA molecules.

• mRNA has a short life time than DNA.