Difference Between Ribose and Deoxyribose

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The nuclear material decides the physical traits of an organism. This nuclear material is made of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). All the biochemical reactions and physical features of an organism are decided and controlled by the DNA present in the nucleus of every cell. All living beings have their specific set of DNA giving instructions to all the cell organelles to perform their respective functions. The sequences of the DNA molecules make a DNA strand that is found in the nucleus in the form of chromosomes. 

The prime constituent of the DNA molecules is a 5-carbon sugar molecule. It has two chemical forms that construct the DNA and RNA structures in the nucleus of every cell. In this article, we will discuss the definition and differences of these 5-carbon ribose and deoxyribose sugar molecules.


What is Ribose?

Ribose is a 5-carbon simple sugar. The chemical formula of this sugar molecule is H−(C=O)−(CHOH)4−H. This is the prime component of ribonucleic acid strands. It forms ribonucleotides. These ribonucleotides are required for encoding, decoding, and regulation of the genes’ expressions. It is a monosaccharide or a simple sugar acting as the base component to form the building blocks of RNA strands.


What is Deoxyribose?

Deoxyribose, on the other hand, is a monosaccharide too. It also has the same 5-carbon formula as that of ribose sugar but loses an oxygen atom. Its chemical formula is H−(C=O)−(CH2)−(CHOH)3−H. It is actually derived from ribose sugar. Deoxyribose is the prime constituent of the building block of DNA molecules and the DNA strands. It has an aldehyde (CHO) group attached to the molecule. Hence, it is also an aldopentose.

The ribose and deoxyribose structures are almost the same. Both are simple sugars but deoxyribose has one oxygen atom less in its molecular structure. It plays a major role in the formation of the DNA bases to form the double-helix structure. These double-helix DNA structures are the prime constituent of the chromosomes in the nucleus of a cell.


Difference Between Ribose and Deoxyribose

Ribose was discovered by the eminent scientist Emil Fisher in 1891. Deoxyribose was discovered by Phoebus Levene in 1921. Let us discuss the difference between Ribose and Deoxyribose.

  • The chemical formula of Ribose is H−(C=O)−(CHOH)4−H whereas Deoxyribose has the chemical formula H−(C=O)−(CH2)−(CHOH)3−H. As you can see, an oxygen atom is missing from the latter formula. This is the prime difference between the two monosaccharide molecules.  

  • The IUPAC name of Ribose is (2S,3R,4S,5R)-5-(hydroxymethyl)oxolane-2,3,4-triol. The IUPAC name of Deoxyribose is 2-deoxy-D-ribose. It is also known as 2-deoxy-D-erythro-pentose.

  • Ribose has a hydrogen atom attached to its molecule at position 2. In the same position, Deoxyribose has a hydroxyl (OH) functional group attached.

  • Both of the sugar molecules develop the blueprint of an organism. The biochemical functioning and physiological traits are developed by DNA and RNA. RNA is formed by Ribose and other components whereas DNA is formed by Deoxyribose and other components.

  • RNA is single-stranded gene material whereas DNA is double-stranded.

  • The molar mass of ribose is 150.13 g/mol. The molar mass of Deoxyribose is 134.13 g/mol. The difference in the molar masses is 16 due to the absence of one oxygen atom in the structure of Deoxyribose.

  • DNA is the prime source of genetic information that regulates the enzymatic activities at the cellular level.

  • Ribose combines with nitrogenous bases such as adenine, guanine, cytosine, and uracil to form ribonucleosides. A phosphate group then attaches to the ribonucleoside to form a ribonucleotide. Deoxyribose, on the other hand, forms deoxyribonucleotides by combining with adenine, guanine, thiamine, and cytosine.

Now that you have understood the difference between ribose and deoxyribose sugar in terms of their chemical structure and functions, you can easily prepare the chapter well. The structural difference can be cleared if you follow the chemical formula and study the structure elaborately. Learn about both the monosaccharide molecules so that you can understand how they differ functionally.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. How to study the Ribose sugar topic easily?

Answer: Pick one topic at first. For instance, study ribose first. It is simpler than the latter. Learn the chemical formula by defining the chemical structure. Practice drawing the structure repeatedly to understand the position of the functional groups in different positions. Find out why it is called a pentose or ribose. Check the IUPAC name and figure out the positions of the functional groups.

2. How to study Deoxyribose easily?

Answer: Learn the IUPAC name and draw the structure of deoxyribose repeatedly. Correlate it with the chemical name of the sugar molecule. Both are the building blocks of nuclear material present in the cells. In fact, the position of DNA is in the chromosomes floating in the nuclear cytoplasm whereas RNA is found in the nucleolus, the denser part of the nucleus of a eukaryotic cell. DNA stores genetic information and RNA decodes it in a particular format to build different kinds of proteins. 

3. How to memorize the difference between Ribose and Deoxyribose?

Answer: This topic about ribose vs deoxyribose will help you understand the difference. Follow the points mentioned in the concept summary. The subject experts at Vedantu have used simple language to explain this concept. You can easily memorize it.