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Ribonucleic Acid (RNA)

A complex organic substance involved in protein synthesis in cells.

RNA consists of a five-carbon sugar (ribose), phosphate, and four nitrogenous bases (adenine, guanine, cytosine, and uracil). In an RNA molecule, the sugar and phosphate combine to form a structure to

Computer-generated image of ribonucleic acid. (Photo by Ken Eward. National Audubon Society Collection/Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

which the nitrogenous bases are attached. These molecules range in composition from fewer than 100 to several thousand nitrogenous bases, and vary in shape from helical to uncoiled. RNA is the primary agent of protein formation, and processes genetic information from deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) molecules into enzymes necessary for life.

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