Asked by: Wendy Beech, Lewes

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The role of DNA is to provide instructions that allow amino acids (the building blocks of proteins needed for the processes of life) to be assembled correctly. DNA also allows those same instructions to be passed down the generations.

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But DNA isn’t unique in this ability, as the related molecule RNA can perform similar functions. It’s also possible that alien life exploits radically different ways of achieving similar ends.

Authors

Robert is a science writer and visiting professor of science at Aston University.

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