What is RNA (ribonucleic acid)?

Ribonucleic acid (RNA) is a polymer that is present in every cell in every living thing on earth. Along with DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) and proteins, RNA is essential to all forms of life. RNA carries out many important functions within a cell including the following.
  • RNA transmits genetic information from DNA cells to proteins produced by the cell.
  • RNA regulates cell division, cell differentiation and growth.
  • RNA regulates cell aging and death.
  • RNA regulates when and how much protein is made in a cell.
  • RNA can act as enzymes to speed chemical reactions.
Diseases including heart disease, stroke and some cancers may involve defects in RNA. Because RNA is central to all biological processes, some scientists are studying RNA to look for new therapies for treating human disease.

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