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11: Transcription and Translation

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    Learning objectives

    1. Describe the flow of information through cells (“the central dogma”) and the cell components that participate.
    2. Describe the structure and potential products of a gene (polypeptide, rRNA, tRNA, mRNA) and the types of proteins required for transcription (RNA polymerases, transcription factors, etc.).
    3. Describe the structure of mRNA, including the 5ʼ cap and poly(A) tail.
    4. Summarize the processing of a pre-mRNA to mature RNA, including the splicing process (introns and exons).
    5. Describe the properties of the genetic code and codon assignments.
    6. Define the role of tRNAs in decoding the genetic code.
    7. Summarize the steps in all stages of translation: tRNA charging, initiation, elongation, and termination.

    The flow of genetic information in cells from DNA to mRNA to protein is described by the central dogma, which states that genes specify the sequence of mRNAs, which in turn specify the sequence of amino acids making up all proteins. The decoding of one molecule to another is performed by specific proteins and RNAs. Because the information stored in DNA is so central to cellular function, it makes intuitive sense that the cell would make mRNA copies of this information for protein synthesis, while keeping the DNA itself intact and protected. The copying of DNA to RNA is relatively straightforward, with one nucleotide being added to the mRNA strand for every nucleotide read in the DNA strand.

    The translation to protein is a bit more complex because three mRNA nucleotides correspond to one amino acid in the polypeptide sequence. However, the translation to protein is still systematic and colinear.

    Thumbnail: Grey, Kindred, Chapter 11. 2021. CC BY 4.0.

    This page titled 11: Transcription and Translation is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Renee J. LeClair (Virginia Tech Libraries' Open Education Initiative) .

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