Science, Tech, Math › Science 10 RNA Facts Learn important facts about ribonucleic acid Share Flipboard Email Print Science Photo Library - PASIEKA. / Getty Images Science Chemistry Biochemistry Basics Chemical Laws Molecules Periodic Table Projects & Experiments Scientific Method Physical Chemistry Medical Chemistry Chemistry In Everyday Life Famous Chemists Activities for Kids Abbreviations & Acronyms Biology Physics Geology Astronomy Weather & Climate By Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Chemistry Expert Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Tennessee at Knoxville B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings College Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Updated January 20, 2020 Ribonucleic acid—RNA—is used to translate instructions from DNA to make proteins in your body. Here are 10 interesting and fun facts about RNA. Each RNA nucleotide consists of a nitrogenous base, a ribose sugar, and a phosphate. Each RNA molecule is typically a single strand, consisting of a relatively short chain of nucleotides. RNA can be shaped like a single helix, a straight molecule, or may be twisted upon itself. DNA, in comparison, is double-stranded and consists of a very long chain of nucleotides. In RNA, the base adenine binds to uracil. In DNA, adenine binds to thymine. RNA does not contain thymine—uracil is an unmethylated form of thymine capable of absorbing light. Guanine binds to cytosine in both DNA and RNA. There are several types of RNA, including transfer RNA (tRNA), messenger RNA (mRNA), and ribosomal RNA (rRNA). RNA performs many functions in an organism, such as coding, decoding, regulating, and expressing genes. About 5% of the weight of a human cell is RNA. Only about 1% of a cell consists of DNA. RNA is found in both the nucleus and cytoplasm of humans cells. DNA is only found in the cell nucleus. RNA is the genetic material for some organisms which don't have DNA. Some viruses contain DNA; many only contain RNA. RNA is used in some cancer-gene therapies to reduce the expression of cancer-causing genes. RNA technology is used to suppress the expression of fruit-ripening genes so that fruits can remain on the vine longer, extending their season and availability for marketing. There is no single person or date for the discovery of RNA. Friedrich Miescher discovered nucleic acids (nuclein) in 1868. After that time, scientists realized there were different types of nucleic acids and different types of RNA. In 1939, researchers determined that RNA is responsible for protein synthesis. In 1959, Severo Ochoa won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for discovering how RNA is synthesized. Cite this Article Format mla apa chicago Your Citation Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "10 RNA Facts." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, thoughtco.com/rna-facts-ribonucleic-acid-608189. Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2021, February 16). 10 RNA Facts. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/rna-facts-ribonucleic-acid-608189 Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "10 RNA Facts." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/rna-facts-ribonucleic-acid-608189 (accessed September 25, 2021). copy citation Watch Now: What Is DNA?