Looking into DNA and RNA

Viewing DNA double helix in Jalview

DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is a key molecule in nature. It is made up of two extremely long strands arranged in a spiral. The DNA helix resembles a spiral staircase, with the steps of the staircase being the 4 different DNA bases: adenine [A], guanine [G], cytosine [C], and thymine [T]. The DNA bases store the genetic code, which contains the instructions that a living organism needs to grow, reproduce and function.

JalviewJS may take a few seconds to open and load the sequences.
Feel free to play! For example, rotate the 3D structure by placing the mouse cursor on the structure then move the mouse. Or place the mouse cursor on the sequence and move the mouse across the different bases. Look at the status bar in the lower left-hand side of the alignment window as this contains extra information.


Viewing RNA in Jalview

RNA (ribonucleic acid) is a single strand molecule that is much shorter than DNA, its fourth base is uracil [U] not thymine [T]. RNA is responsible for taking the genetic code stored in DNA and using it to make proteins.

Feel free to play! Rotate the 3D structure by placing the mouse cursor on the structure then move the mouse. Place the mouse cursor on the sequence and move the mouse across the different bases.

Q. Look at the letters of the 4 bases in the RNA sequence, which one is different from the DNA bases?


The role of DNA and RNA video

This 3D animation shows how proteins are made in the cell from the information in the DNA code.


Why RNA is cool video

Watch the Amoeba Sisters' video as they compare and contrast RNA with DNA and learn why DNA should be sharing the limelight!

“If RNA and DNA were sisters, DNA would be the popular one with a very distinct look. She would be at the top of the class because she knows so much. Whilst RNA would be the quiet, hardworking one, not easily recognised, but the person who you can rely on to make thing happen.”


Please visit the Jalview Schools page for more information about using Jalview to visualise DNA, RNA and proteins.