Protein Synthesis - Transcription and Translation
Protein synthesis requires two steps: transcription and translation.
Three bases in DNA code for one amino acid. The DNA code is copied to produce mRNA. The order of amino acids in the polypeptide is determined by the sequence of 3-letter codes in mRNA.
Bonds with Adenine:
# of Strands:
Messenger RNA (mRNA)
Messenger RNA contains genetic information. It is a copy of a portion of the DNA.
It carries genetic information from the gene (DNA) out of the nucleus, into the cytoplasm of the cell where it is translated to produce protein.
Ribosomal RNA (rRNA)
This type of RNA is a structural component of the ribosomes. It does not contain a genetic message.
Transfer RNA (tRNA)
Transfer RNA functions to transport amino acids to the ribosomes during protein synthesis.
Transcription is the synthesis of mRNA from a DNA template.
It is like DNA replication in that a DNA strand is used to synthesize a strand of mRNA.
Only one strand of DNA is copied.
A single gene may be transcribed thousands of times.
After transcription, the DNA strands rejoin.
RNA polymerase recognizes a specific base sequence in the DNA called a promoter and binds to it. The promoter identifies the start of a gene, which strand is to be copied, and the direction that it is to be copied.
RNA polymerase unwinds the DNA.
RNA polymerase assembles bases that are complimentary to the DNA strand being copied. RNA contains uracil instead of thymine.
A termination code in the DNA indicates where transcription will stop.
The mRNA produced is called a mRNA transcript.
In eucaryotic cells, the newly-formed mRNA transcript (also called heterogenous nuclear RNA or hnRNA) must be further modified before it can be used.
A cap is added to the 5 end and a poly-A tail (150 to 200 Adenines) is added to the 3end of the molecule.
The newly-formed mRNA has regions that do not contain a genetic message. These regions are called introns and must be removed. Their function is unknown.
The remaining portions of mRNA are called exons. They are spliced together to form a mature mRNA transcript.
DNA is located in an organelle called the nucleus.
Transcription and mRNA processing occur in the nucleus.
The nucleus is surrounded by a double membrane. After the mature mRNA transcript is produced, it moves out of the nucleus and into the cytoplasm through pores in the nuclear membrane.
Translation is the process where ribosomes synthesize proteins using the mature mRNA transcript produced during transcription.
The diagram below shows a ribosome attach to mRNA, and then move along the mRNA adding amino acids to the growing polypeptide chain.
Translation - Details
A mature mRNA transcript, a ribosome, several tRNA molecules and amino acids are shown. There is a specific tRNA for each of the 20 different amino acids.
Below: A ribosome attaches to the mRNA transcript.
A tRNA molecule transports an amino acid to the ribosome. Notice that the 3-letter anticodon on the tRNA molecule matches the 3-letter code (called a codon) in the mRNA. The tRNA with the anticodon "UAC" bonds with methionine. It always transports methionine. Transfer RNA molecules with different anticodons transport other amino acids.
A second tRNA molecule bonds to the mRNA at the ribosome. Again, the codes must match.
A bond is formed between the two amino acids.
The tRNA bonded to methionine drops off and can be reused later.
The ribosome moves along the mRNA to expose another codon (GAU) for a tRNA molecule.
The only tRNA molecule that can bond to the GAU site is a molecule with a CUA anticodon. Transfer RNA molecules with CUA anticodons are specific for asparagine.
Asparagine is now added to the growing amino acid chain.
Animation of Translation on the Internet
The link below will take you to an animation that summarizes transcription and translation.
Initiation and Termination Codes
An initiation code signals the start of a genetic message. As the ribosome moves along a mRNA transcript, it will not begin synthesizing protein until it reaches an initiation code.
Termination codes signal the end of the genetic message. Synthesis stops when the ribosome reaches a terminator codon.
The table below can be used to determine what amino acid corresponds to any 3-letter codon in the mRNA.
Mutations are changes in the DNA.
A frameshift mutation is usually severe, producing a completely nonfunctional protein.
The priniciple of a frameshift can be explained using the sentence below. If the letters are read three at a time and one is deleted, the second sentence becomes meaningless.
|THE BIG RED ANT ATE ONE FAT BUG|
THB IGR EDA NTA TEO NEF ATB UG?
Point mutations involve a single nucleotide, thus a single amino acid.
In the sentence below, eliminating one letter does not change in the remaining three-letter words and therefore may not cause a significant change in the meaning of the sentence.
|THE BIG RED ANT ATE ONE FAT BUG|
THA BIG RED ANT ATE ONE FAT BUG
Silent, Missense, and Nonsense Mutations
Three kinds of point mutations can occur. A mutation that results in an amino acid substitution is called a missense mutation.
A mutation that results in a stop codon so that incomplete proteins are produced, it is called a nonsense mutation.
A mutation that produces a functioning protein is called a silent mutation.
Exercise - Understanding DNA, mRNA, tRNA, and protein.
Each column in the table below represents three nucleotides. In each column, fill in the information in the cells that are blank by using the information in the cell that is given. As you complete the table below, you will need to look up mRNA codes in the table in the Genetic Codes section above.
|Coding (anti-sense) strand|| || || |
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|mRNA|| || || || |
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|Amino Acid|| || |
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List several characteristics that a chemical ought to have if it is to be used as genetic material.