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RNASE A vs. RNASE H: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on February 24, 2024
RNase A is an enzyme that degrades RNA by cleaving the phosphodiester bonds, while RNase H specifically targets and hydrolyzes the RNA strand of RNA-DNA hybrids.

Key Differences

RNase A is a widely studied ribonuclease that nonspecifically cleaves single-stranded RNA, making it useful in molecular biology applications. RNase H, in contrast, specifically hydrolyzes RNA in RNA-DNA hybrids, playing a crucial role in DNA replication and repair.
The molecular structure of RNase A is distinct, characterized by its stability and efficiency in RNA cleavage. RNase H, however, has a unique structure that recognizes RNA-DNA duplexes, enabling its specific activity.
RNase A is primarily used in research for RNA analysis and removal. RNase H has a vital role in cellular processes, including the removal of RNA primers during DNA synthesis and the repair of DNA.
In laboratory settings, RNase A is often used for removing RNA contaminants. RNase H's specific activity against RNA-DNA hybrids makes it valuable in techniques like molecular cloning and reverse transcription.
RNase A is typically extracted from bovine pancreas, known for its stability and ease of purification. RNase H is usually derived from bacterial sources due to its involvement in bacterial DNA replication mechanisms.

Comparison Chart

Target Substrate

Single-stranded RNA
RNA in RNA-DNA hybrids

Enzymatic Activity

Cleaves phosphodiester bonds in RNA
Hydrolyzes RNA strand of RNA-DNA hybrids

Biological Role

RNA analysis and removal in labs
Involved in DNA replication and repair

Structural Features

Stable, efficient in RNA cleavage
Unique for recognizing RNA-DNA duplexes

Common Sources

Extracted from bovine pancreas
Typically derived from bacterial sources

RNASE A and RNASE H Definitions


Widely used in molecular biology for RNA analysis.
The lab used RNase A for RNA digestion in the experiment.


Recognizes RNA-DNA duplexes specifically.
RNase H's specificity is vital for accurate hybrid molecule processing.


Extracted primarily from bovine pancreas for lab use.
High-purity RNase A is essential for accurate molecular assays.


An enzyme that targets and hydrolyzes RNA in RNA-DNA hybrids.
RNase H activity is crucial in reverse transcription processes.


Known for its stability and nonspecific RNA cleavage.
RNase A is preferred for its efficient RNA degradation capabilities.


Plays a role in DNA replication and repair mechanisms.
The removal of RNA primers by RNase H aids DNA synthesis.


A tool for studying RNA structure and function.
RNase A treatment helped analyze the RNA's secondary structure.


Essential in molecular cloning and genetic engineering.
RNase H was used to generate cDNA from mRNA.


An enzyme that degrades RNA by cleaving its phosphodiester bonds.
RNase A was used to remove RNA contamination from the DNA sample.


Often derived from bacterial sources for laboratory applications.
Bacterial RNase H was used for studying RNA-DNA hybrid stability.


Is RNase H used in PCR reactions?

No, it's not typically used in PCR but in reverse transcription and cloning.

What distinguishes RNase A from RNase H?

RNase A nonspecifically cleaves RNA, while RNase H specifically targets RNA in RNA-DNA hybrids.

What is the main use of RNase A in the lab?

It's primarily used for RNA removal and analysis.

Are RNase A and RNase H stable at high temperatures?

RNase A is known for its stability, but RNase H's stability can vary.

Does RNase H have a role in DNA replication?

Yes, it removes RNA primers during DNA synthesis.

Can RNase H degrade single-stranded RNA?

No, it specifically targets RNA within RNA-DNA hybrids.

Can RNase A and RNase H be inhibited?

Yes, specific inhibitors can block their activity.

Can RNase A degrade RNA in RNA-DNA hybrids?

Yes, but it lacks the specificity of RNase H for such hybrids.

Is RNase H activity important in genetic engineering?

Yes, particularly in cloning and cDNA synthesis.

How do RNase A and RNase H differ in structure?

RNase A has a simpler structure, while RNase H is specialized for RNA-DNA hybrid recognition.

What precautions are needed when working with RNase A?

Avoid contamination and use RNase-free tubes and solutions.

What is the source of commercial RNase A?

It's typically extracted from bovine pancreas.

Are there different types of RNase H?

Yes, there are variants like RNase H1 and RNase H2, with different specificities.

How do storage conditions affect RNase H?

RNase H requires specific storage conditions to retain its activity.

How is RNase A activity measured in the lab?

Through assays that quantify the degradation of RNA substrates.

Can RNase H be used to study RNA-DNA interactions?

Yes, its specificity makes it useful for studying these interactions.

What are the applications of RNase A in molecular diagnostics?

It's used in sample preparation and RNA removal in diagnostic assays.

Can RNase A degrade viral RNA?

Yes, it can degrade viral RNA as part of RNA cleanup.

Is RNase H found in all living organisms?

RNase H enzymes are found in most organisms, playing key roles in DNA replication.

Is RNase A involved in any cellular processes?

Its primary role is in laboratory applications rather than in cellular processes.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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