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Difference Between Nucleotide and Nucleoside

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Last updated date: 13th Jul 2024
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The Blueprint of Life: Understanding Nucleic Acids

Nucleic acids are large biomolecules that store and transmit genetic information in living cells. Nucleic acid has two types: deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and ribonucleic acid (RNA). DNA is a double-stranded helical molecule. It is composed of adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C), and thymine (T) which are four nucleotide building blocks. The sequence of these nucleotides forms the genetic code that is responsible for the unique characteristics of an organism. It is found in the nucleus of eukaryotic cells and in the cytoplasm of prokaryotic cells. RNA is a single-stranded molecule. It is composed of adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C), and uracil (U) which are four nucleotide building blocks. RNA is involved in the transfer of genetic information from DNA to the protein synthesis machinery of the cell. 


Nucleotides and nucleosides are two types of organic molecules that are essential for the storage, transmission, and expression of genetic information in living cells. Nucleotides consist of a nitrogenous base, a five-carbon sugar, and a phosphate group, while nucleosides consist of a nitrogenous base and a five-carbon sugar, but they do not have a phosphate group. Now let's explain nucleotide and nucleoside in detail.

What is Nucleotide and Nucleoside?

Nucleotide 

DNA and RNA's building blocks are nucleotides, which are the molecules responsible for storing and transmitting genetic information in living organisms. Its composition is a nitrogenous base, a five-carbon sugar, and a phosphate group. The nitrogenous base in nucleotides can be either a purine (adenine or guanine) or a pyrimidine (cytosine, uracil, or thymine).  The five-carbon sugar in nucleotides is either ribose (in RNA) or deoxyribose (in DNA). The phosphate group in nucleotides is attached to the 5' carbon of the sugar via a phosphodiester bond. The phosphate group gives nucleotides a negative charge, which makes them hydrophilic and allows them to interact with water. Examples of nucleotides include ATP, GTP, CTP, UTP.


Nucleoside

Nucleosides are similar to nucleotides in that they consist of a nitrogenous base and a five-carbon sugar. However, they do not have a phosphate group attached to the sugar.


The nitrogenous base in nucleosides can be either a purine (adenine or guanine) or a pyrimidine (cytosine, uracil, or thymine). The five-carbon sugar in nucleosides is either ribose (in RNA) or deoxyribose (in DNA). Nucleosides are important because they are the precursors to nucleotides. Examples of nucleosides include adenosine, guanosine, cytidine, thymidine, uracil.


Characteristics of Nucleotide and Nucleoside

Nucleotides and nucleosides are two types of molecules that are important for building DNA and RNA. Here are some characteristics of each:


Nucleotides:

  • Composition is a nitrogenous base, a sugar, and one or more phosphate groups.

  • Are the building blocks of DNA and RNA.

  • Play important roles in processes like DNA replication, RNA transcription and translation.

  • Can be modified to carry energy or information in the form of phosphate groups.


Nucleosides:

  • Consist of a nitrogenous base and sugar, but no phosphate groups.

  • Are precursors to nucleotides.

  • Play roles in DNA repair, RNA processing, and other cell processes.

  • Can be modified to carry energy or information in the form of sugar modifications.


Nucleotide and Nucleoside Difference 

The table presented below highlights the main differences between Nucleotide and Nucleoside.


S.No

Nucleotide

Nucleoside

1

Nucleotides contain a phosphate group.

Nucleoside does not contain a phosphate group.

2

Nucleotide composition is a nitrogenous base, a five-carbon sugar, and a phosphate group.

Nucleoside composition is of a nitrogenous base and a five-carbon sugar. 

3

Nucleotides are involved in the storage and transmission of genetic information,

Nucleosides are involved in the regulation of cellular metabolism and the synthesis of nucleotides.

4

Nucleotides are composed of purine and pyrimidine bases.

Nucleosides can be composed of either purine or pyrimidine bases.

5

Nucleotides are the building blocks of DNA and RNA.

Nucleosides are precursors to nucleotides.

6

Nucleotides contain one or more phosphate groups attached to the sugar.

Nucleosides do not have a phosphate group attached to the sugar.

7

ATP and GTP store energy for cellular processes,

Nucleosides do not store energy.

8

Examples of nucleotides include ATP, GTP, CTP, UTP.

Examples of nucleosides include adenosine, guanosine, cytidine, thymidine, uracil.


Summary

Nucleotides are molecules that consist of a nitrogenous base, a five-carbon sugar, and one or more phosphate groups, while nucleosides are molecules that consist of a nitrogenous base and a five-carbon sugar. Nucleotides are the building blocks of DNA and RNA, and they play a role in DNA replication, RNA transcription, and translation, energy transfer etc. Nucleosides are precursors to nucleotides, and they play a role in DNA repair, RNA processing etc. Nucleotides contain one or more phosphate groups attached to the 5' carbon of the sugar via phosphodiester bonds, while nucleosides do not have a phosphate group attached to the sugar.

FAQs on Difference Between Nucleotide and Nucleoside

1. What is the difference between nucleotide and nucleoside?

Nucleotide and nucleoside difference are:

Nucleotides and nucleosides are both molecules that are important for building DNA and RNA, but there are some key differences. Nucleotides are made up of a nitrogenous base, a sugar, and one or more phosphate groups, while nucleosides are made up of a nitrogenous base and a sugar, but no phosphate groups. Nucleotides are the building blocks of DNA and RNA and play important roles in processes like DNA replication, RNA transcription and translation, and cell signaling. Nucleosides are important because they are precursors to nucleotides and also play roles in DNA repair, RNA processing, and other cell processes.

2. What are the characteristics of nucleotide and nucleoside?

Nucleotides: It consist of a nitrogenous base, a sugar, and one or more phosphate groups. It plays an important role in processes like DNA replication, RNA transcription and translation. It can be modified to carry energy or information in the form of phosphate groups.


Nucleosides: It consist of a nitrogenous base and a sugar, but no phosphate groups. They are precursors to nucleotides. It plays roles in DNA repair, RNA processing, and other cell processes. It can be modified to carry energy or information in the form of sugar modifications.

3. What is nucleotide and nucleoside with example?

Nucleotides and nucleosides are two types of molecules that are important for building DNA and RNA. Here are some examples of each:


Nucleotides: Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is a nucleotide that carries energy in cells,

Thymidine triphosphate (TTP): a nucleotide that is used to build DNA during replication and repair and Uridine triphosphate (UTP): a nucleotide that is used to build RNA during transcription.


Nucleosides: Adenosine is a nucleoside that is made up of the base adenine and the sugar ribose, Guanosine is a nucleoside that is made up of the base guanine and the sugar ribose and Cytidine is a nucleoside that is made up of the base cytosine and the sugar ribose.