Here's What You Need to Know About RNA and DNA Virus


As per the National Geographic Magazine, there are more than 10 nonillion viruses that are on the earth. It is a lot more than the stars that we can see and count in our universe. But the best part is that not all of them affect humans. There is still a debate about whether you can classify a virus as a living organism or consider it an android. We distinguish a virus as an RNA and DNA virus.


We classify viruses as RNA and DNA viruses depending on their genome. Not all the viruses that we find in the world are harmful to us. For example, a common cold does not cause any threat to us. But getting infected by HIV can be catastrophic. 


What is a Virus

Viruses are pathogens that need a host to thrive and to reproduce. There is genetic information inside a virus — RNA or DNA, which is capsuled inside a protein. 


They use peculiar strategies to take over the cell's biochemical machinery of the host to replicate themselves. Once in the body of the host, the virus then injects its genetic information into the cell. It is one of the ways they use to take over the cell's machinery. 


Once they take over the cell, they make multiple copies of themselves before infecting other cells. Once they take over the other cells, they do the same thing repeatedly. Viruses can take over a person's body using this method to replicate themselves.


The DNA Virus

DNA viruses use DNA as the genetic information or material. Herpesvirus, herpesvirus, and parvovirus are some examples. This kind of virus can affect both humans and animals. If the virus's membrane can fuse with the cell membrane, it can enter a host cell. 


Once it is in the cell, the contents in the virus will quickly reach the nucleus. After which, it will invade the cell's machinery to replicate copies of itself before transcribing it into RNA. 


The RNA is going to control the creation of proteins as required by the virus. The protein coating that is around the genetic material is called a capsid. These capsids are going to stay inside a cell until it reaches its full capacity to break open. Once it is free, the newly formed virus will now start to attack and infect the other body cells in the same manner. 


The RNA Virus

Retrovirus is the other name for RNA viruses. The genetic material for this virus is RNA, thus the name. 


HIV, Coronavirus, and Hepatitis Viruses are some of the examples. Upon entering the body of its host, the virus must convert the RNA into DNA to survive. We call this process reverse transcription. Once it is successful in doing this task, it will take over the cell's biochemical machinery to replicate itself just like the DNA virus. 


RNA viruses utilize integrase, an enzyme to inject the retroviral DNA inside a host cell's genome. Diseases like cancer can happen when retrovirus integrates DNA into the host cell. 


Treatment of the Disease

Treating an RNA virus is not an easy thing. It is more complicated than treating a DNA virus. Vaccines can help treat viruses' DNA form — an inactive portion of the virus gets injected with the vaccine.


Usually, the vaccine contains the protein coat of the virus. Since the vaccine will not have any genetic material, there is no way the virus can replicate itself. 


The immune system will recognize the viral protein as a threat and create antibodies to fight and destroy the virus. Taking proper treatment and medication on time can help in fighting against deadly viruses. 


Since you know how RNA and DNA virus functions, you should also learn about virus mutation and how it’s effect.