What is Ribose? - Structure, Overview

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  • 0:01 What is Ribose?
  • 0:28 The Role of Ribose
  • 1:36 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Derrick Arrington

Derrick has taught biology and chemistry at both the high school and college level. He has a master's degree in science education.

Our bodies require many chemical compounds to function properly. One of the crucial compounds found in all of our cells is ribose. In this lesson we will examine this molecule to gain an understanding of its structure and function.

What is Ribose?

Ribose is an organic compound classified as a monosaccharide, or simple sugar. Ribose is composed of five carbon atoms, ten hydrogen atoms, and five oxygen atoms that have been bonded together. Ribose is a pentose sugar. This means that the five carbons that form the majority of the structure give the molecule a pentagon shape.

This image depicts the pentagonal structure of a typical ribose molecule.
A picture of a ribose molecule.

The Role of Ribose

If you turn on the news, you may find that a common topic of discussion is science or DNA. This is because we now use DNA and forensics for many things in society. However, without ribose sugar, there would be no DNA. Ribose sugar is crucial in the formation of both DNA and RNA. Let's examine how it is used.

Ribose is extremely important in biology because a form of it is used in DNA. The letters in DNA stand for deoxyribonucleic acid. The letters ribo in the middle of the word indicate that it has a ribose sugar. But, the prefix deoxy means that this particular form of ribose has lost one of its oxygen molecules, making it deoxyribose.

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