Copying, transferring and translating DNA

Your cells copy, transfer and translate the information in your DNA to keep your body functioning.


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The central dogma of molecular biology describes how genetic information in your DNA is decoded and turned into a functional product, usually a protein.

Cells use sections of DNA called genes as templates to make proteins and other molecules they need to function. The journey from DNA to protein is a tightly regulated process that occurs in two main steps: transcription and translation. 

In transcription, the DNA in a gene is used as a template to produce a new molecule, messenger RNA. The transcription process generates messenger RNA with a sequence of bases or letters that is complementary to the DNA template. Messenger RNA is more portable than DNA, and can travel to a different location in the cell to be translated into a functional product. 

During translation, the sequence of the messenger RNA is read by a protein complex called a ribosome. Each set of three letters in the sequence corresponds to a particular amino acid – as the messenger RNA is read, the corresponding amino acids are assembled into a chain to make a protein.

DNA replication – the process of producing two identical DNA replicas from one original molecule – is another key biological process. Our bodies' cells can only grow and divide if DNA copies can be made from the existing DNA. The process of DNA replication is controlled by a group of proteins that ensure the DNA sequence is copied correctly, and that errors are fixed quickly. 


Tags: image, DNA, RNA, protein, transcription, translation


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Kinghorn Centre for Clinical Genomics, August 2018. 
Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.