What Are the Three Types of RNA? What Are Their Functions?

Kinds of RNA and What They Do

The three main types of ribonucleic acid or RNA are messenger RNA (mRNA), transfer RNA (tRNA), and ribosomal RNA (rRNA).
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One common homework and test question asks you to name the three types of RNA and list their functions. 

There are actually several types of ribonucleic acid or RNA, but most RNA falls into one of three categories:

  • mRNA or Messenger RNA
    mRNA transcribes the genetic code from DNA into a form that can be read and used to make proteins. mRNA carries genetic information from the nucleus to the cytoplasm of a cell.
  • rRNA or Ribosomal RNA
    rRNA is located in the cytoplasm of a cell, where ribosomes are found. rRNA directs the translation of mRNA into proteins.
  • tRNA or Transfer RNA
    Like rRNA, tRNA is located in the cellular cytoplasm and is involved in protein synthesis. Transfer RNA brings or transfers amino acids to the ribosome that correspond to each three-nucleotide codon of rRNA. The amino acids then can be joined together and processed to make polypeptides and proteins.


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