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Difference Between mRNA And tRNA

Last updated date: 27th Feb 2024
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RNA also called Ribonucleic Acid, is a single-stranded polymer consisting of nucleotides that are made up of ribose sugar, phosphate, and bases. The bases include adenine, guanine, cytosine, and uracil. It plays a crucial role in gene expression, as it acts as the intermediary between the genetic information that is encoded by DNA and proteins.

R.W. Holley described the structure of RNA in the year 1965. The structure of RNA is similar to that of DNA but the key difference is the ribose sugar in the RNA consists of a hydroxyl group which is absent in the DNA. Here we will discuss the difference between mRNA and tRNA.


There are three main types of RNA in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. They are:


mRNA is also called messenger RNA. mRNA is 5% of the total RNA present in the cell. Among all the types of RNA, mRNA is the most heterogeneous one in both the base sequence and size. During transcription, mRNA copies the complementary genetic information from DNA in the form of triplet codons of nucleotides.

  • Even though there are 64 codons or triplet bases in the genetic code, only 20 codons represent the amino acids. These codons include 3 stop codons which stop the protein synthesis in the translation process. 

  • During the post transcription process in eukaryotes, the 5’ end of mRNA is capped with guanosine triphosphate nucleotide which helps in the recognition of mRNA during translation or protein synthesis. 

  • In the 3’ end of mRNA, multiple adenylate residues or poly-A tails have been added that help to prevent enzymatic degradation. Hence we can tell that both ends provide stability to the mRNA.


tRNA is also called transfer RNA. tRNA is the smallest RNA of all three types. It has around 75-95 nucleotides. It is the most essential component of translation which helps to transfer the amino acids during protein synthesis. 

  • There is a presence of specific tRNA for each of the 20 amino acids that bind to tRNA and transfer it to the polypeptide chain. During the process of translation of a genetic sequence of mRNA into proteins, tRNA acts as adapters. Hence they are called adapter molecules.

  • The structure of tRNA resembles a cloverleaf that can be stabilized by strong hydrogen bonds in between the nucleotides.


rRNA is also called Ribosomal RNA. rRNA is 80% of the total RNA in the cell. Ribosomes are made up of two subunits, they are larger subunits which are called the 50s, and smaller subunits called the 30s. 

  • Each of these is made up of its specific rRNA molecules. The molecules of rRNA are synthesized in the organelle called the nucleolus. 

  • rRNAs combine with enzymes and proteins to form ribosomes in the cytoplasm. These structures are travelled along the mRNA during the process of translation to facilitate the assembly of amino acids to form a polypeptide chain.

mRNA tRNA rRNA Functions

The functions of mRNA tRNA rRNA are as follows:

  • mRNA is produced during the process of transcription which carries the genetic information that is present in the gene from the nucleus to the ribosome in the cytoplasm.

  • rRNA along with the proteins composes the ribosomes, these are the organelles responsible for the protein synthesis.

  • tRNA helps to get the amino acids to the ribosome during the process of translation.

mRNA and tRNA Difference

The difference between mRNA and tRNA are as follow:



It is the connection between genes and protein.

It provides correct amino acids to the ribosomes.

It carries the genetic information from the nucleus to the ribosome. 

It carries amino acids to ribosomes to assist the biosynthesis of protein.

It has a linear structure.

It has a cloverleaf structure.

They are synthesized in the nucleus.

They are synthesized in the cytoplasm.

The size is around 400 to 12,000 nucleotides.

The size is around 75 to 90 nucleotides.

It consists of codons.

It consists of anticodons.

The major type of RNA, mRNA tRNA rRNA plays a significant role in the synthesis of proteins. mRNA is the one that initiates the protein synthesis and it is followed by tRNA and rRNA where the tRNA helps to bring the specific amino acid and the rRNA plays an important role in the formation of ribosomes. And this whole process takes place from the nucleus to the ribosome. 

Interesting Facts About RNA:

  • Every RNA strand has a sugar, nitrogenous base and phosphate in it. 

  • DNA is a double helical structure, whereas RNA nucleotide is a single helical structure, it could be in the shape of a helix, surround itself and has related material to make a protein. 

  • There are many types of RNA to perform different functions like coding information, decoding information etc, RNA is two types namely, tRNA (transfer RNA), mRNA(messenger RNA) to perform different tasks.

  • The human body is made up of many cells and then organs. Every cell has DNA and information related to genes. But, only 1% of the entire cell has DNA whereas RNA occupies around 4% of the cell.

  • DNA in a cell can only be found in the nucleus of the cell securely but the RNA can be found in the nucleus and also in the cytoplasm of the cell.

FAQs on Difference Between mRNA And tRNA

1. What is tRNA?

tRNA is a small RNA molecule that helps in the synthesis of proteins. Each of the tRNA molecules has two sites: an anticodon region and a region for attachment of amino acids. During the process of translation, a tRNA molecule forms base pairs with the complementary sequence on the mRNA whenever an amino acid is added to the chain to ensure that the appropriate amino acid is added to the protein.

2. What is rRNA?

rRNA helps in the synthesis of proteins in an organelle called the ribosome. This is further exported to the cytoplasm to translate the genetic information in the mRNA to the protein.

3. What is mRNA? What is the Function of mRNA?

mRNA is a single-stranded RNA molecule that is complementary to either one of the DNA strands of a gene. It is moved from the cell nucleus to the cytoplasm for the synthesis of proteins.

Function: During the process of synthesis of proteins an organelle called a ribosome is also moved with mRNA which reads the base sequence and uses the genetic information to translate the triplets into respective amino acids.

4. What is DNA and what is its importance?

DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) is like a memory bank of the human body, it has all the instructions to perform various actions like digestion, reproduction, recognising something etc, it also has required information for an organism to survive. Any instruction from the DNA should be converted into complex molecules called proteins to carry forward the function. To make a protein, the gene is very important and does 1% of the work and the rest of the work to produce the protein is done by the remaining 99% of the DNA sequence. DNA was initially observed in the 1800s by a biochemist named Frederich Miescher from Switzerland and it took nearly 100 years to completely find out the structure of DNA. It also carries genetic information and passes it on to the next level through reproduction. It also helps a cell to reproduce, the DNA splits into two parts i.e, a single helix form, a double helix structure and further develops into a new cell. Following are some of the important functions of DNA:

  • DNA is a double helical structure that is split into a single helix to facilitate cell formation in living organisms.

  • DNA helps in generating RNA which further generates a protein and it helps perform different functions.

  • DNA carries the genetic information of the organism. It also performs a recombination function which helps in altering the genes and acquiring new traits. With ever-changing traits and new adaptations, all animals including human beings have evolved.

  • DNA also helps in research as it contains all the genetic information required. They are studied to find out interesting things about evolution, adaptations and related concepts.

5. Mention some recent findings in the sphere of Genetics?

DNA simply explained is a cell where all the information related to a living organism is stored. It has all the genetic information related to the living organism and also information necessary to perform different functions like reproduction, adaptation mechanisms etc, DNA was discovered in the 1880s but a clear idea about its structure is discovered much later. Following are some of the recent trends related to DNA:

  • aDNA is also known as ancient DNA that can be extracted from fossils, bones etc through scientific techniques. These small fragments are processed to know more about ancient life, adaptations, genes generally, ancient DNA gets degraded due to weather conditions, soil erosion, disasters etc, but with improved technology, experts can now carefully extract them from the fossils and process them. This technological development is a historical revolution and improved the scope of historical research. 

  • Experts are inquiring into different aspects like how people have originated in different geographical regions, what were the causes for these physical variations, etc,

  • In Indian history, genetic and DNA research is being used to know more about the “Aryan Invasion” and Dravidian history. 

  • The government has also come up with a new bill, DNA profiling bill 2019, to check the use of DNA technology in different fields. It establishes national and regional banks to store data related to DNA.

  • It also establishes a DNA regulatory board to give permissions for the labs conducting DNA research and other activities.