Messenger RNA vs. Transfer RNA: What's the Difference?

Key Difference

RNA stands for ribonucleic acid. It is one of the type of nucleic acid found in cells. RNA has further three types, messenger RNA (mRNA), transfer RNA (tRNA) and ribosomal RNA (rRNA). Here we are dealing with messenger RNA (mRNA) and transfer RNA (tRNA). Messenger RNA (mRNA) is the type of RNA which contain genetic information in the form of codons that are transcribed from DNA in nucleus and transport this information to the ribosome. Whereas, transfer RNA (tRNA) is the type of RNA that transfer amino acids to the ribosome for the synthesis of proteins. Structurally, messenger RNA (mRNA) and transfer RNA (tRNA) are quite different. Messenger RNA (mRNA) are the simple strands of DNA sequence and stores genetic codes in it whereas, transfer RNA (tRNA) are complex and looped structure. Another difference is that messenger RNA (mRNA) is found in the nucleus and cytoplasm of cell whereas, transfer RNA (tRNA) is found only in the cytoplasm.

Comparison Chart

Messenger RNA Transfer RNA
Location Messenger RNA (mRNA) is found in the nucleus as well as the cytoplasm of the cell. Transfer RNA (tRNA) is found only In the cytoplasm of the cell not in the nucleus.
Function Messenger RNA (mRNA) contain genetic information in the form of codons that are transcribed from DNA in nucleus and transport this information to the ribosome. Transfer RNA (tRNA) is the type of RNA that transfer amino acids to the ribosome for the synthesis of proteins.
Splitting Messenger RNA (mRNA) is deactivated and broken down after translation. Transfer RNA (tRNA) is not deactivated or destroyed; it is reused in next process.
Structure Messenger RNA (mRNA) are the simple strands of DNA sequence and stores genetic codes in it. Transfer RNA (tRNA) are complex and looped structure.
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What is Messenger RNA?

Messenger RNA (mRNA) is the first type of RNA found in the cell, 5% of total RNA in the cell is messenger RNA (mRNA). It is found in the nucleus of the cell. Here it gets all the genetic information from DNA by transcription and then moves to the cytoplasm. In the cytoplasm, messenger RNA (mRNA) moves to ribosome onto which ribosomal RNA (rRNA) is attached. Ribosomal RNA acts as a factory for protein synthesis. Amino acids needed for protein synthesis are provided by transfer RNA (tRNA). Then proteins are synthesized according to the information on messenger RNA (mRNA). Structurally, messenger RNA (mRNA) are the simple strands of DNA sequence and stores genetic codes in it. Messenger RNA (mRNA) carries the gene in the form of triplets of DNA bases, after the process of synthesis of proteins (translation) messenger RNA (mRNA) is deactivated and broken down. In post-transcriptional changes messenger, RNA (mRNA) is capped with guanosine triphosphate nucleotide at its 5’ end and same, to the 3’ end of messenger RNA (mRNA) multiple adenylate residues are added.

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What is Transfer RNA?

Transfer RNA (tRNA) is the third and the smallest type of RNA found in the cell. Its structure is bit complex as compared to messenger RNA (mRNA), it has 75-95 nucleotides in it. Transfer RNA (tRNA) is 15% of total RNA in cells.  Transfer RNA (tRNA) is that type of RNA that transfer amino acids to the ribosome for the synthesis of proteins. It is found only In the cytoplasm of the cell not in the nucleus. It takes amino acids with it and transports it through the cytoplasm to the ribosomal RNA (rRNA) present on ribosomes. These amino acids are specific as they are further utilized for specific protein synthesis. Transfer RNA (tRNA) also serve as the link between the coding sequences of messenger RNA (mRNA) and amino acids. Each transfer RNA (tRNA) attaches to one specific amino acid and transport it. After the synthesis of protein (translation), transfer RNA (tRNA) is not deactivated or destroyed, it is reused in next process.

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Messenger RNA  vs. Transfer RNA

  • Messenger RNA (mRNA) is the first type of RNA found in the cell, 5% of total RNA in the cell is messenger RNA (mRNA), Transfer RNA (tRNA) is the third and the smallest type of RNA found in the cell, 15% of total RNA in cells.
  • Messenger RNA (mRNA) is found in the nucleus as well as the cytoplasm of the cell while transfer RNA (tRNA) is found only In the cytoplasm of the cell not in the nucleus.
  • Messenger RNA (mRNA) contain genetic information in the form of codons that are transcribed from DNA in nucleus and transport this information to the ribosome. Whereas, transfer RNA (tRNA) is the type of RNA that transfer amino acids to the ribosome for the synthesis of proteins.
  • Messenger RNA (mRNA) is deactivated and broken down after translation whereas, transfer RNA (tRNA) is not deactivated or destroyed, it is reused in next process.
  • Messenger RNA (mRNA) are the simple strands of DNA sequence and stores genetic codes in it whereas, transfer RNA (tRNA) are complex and looped structure.

Explanatory Video

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