RNA and Transcription

Getting the message out!

You already know that DNA is the “boss” of the cell. It directs all of the cell’s processes.
How can it do that when it’s stuck inside the nucleus?

Answer: specialized messages!
1.The DNA sends its coded message from inside the nucleus to the cytoplasm through a process called transcription. 2. This message contains instructions for making a specific protein through a process called translation. 3. The protein puts the DNA’s instructions into action, either inside or outside the cell!

How to get the message out…

But who’s going to carry the message from inside the nucleus to the cytoplasm?

RNA: DNA’s overworked cousin
RNA is very similar in structure to DNA. The only differences are: 1. The sugar in RNA is slightly different (ribose instead of deoxyribose) 2. RNA has uracil (U) instead of thymine (T) 3. RNA usually hangs out in a single, unstable strand These small changes in structure make RNA function very differently from its DNA cousin.

RNA comes in three flavors
Messenger RNA (mRNA): carries the genetic message from DNA in the nucleus to the cytoplasm Transfer RNA (tRNA): uses the RNA message to construct proteins in the cytoplasm Ribosomal RNA (rRNA): ribosomes are made out of this kind of RNA. Proteins are made inside of ribosomes.

mRNA tRNA A Ribosome (rRNA)

Let’s take a closer look at how the message gets from inside the nucleus out to the cytosol…

We first must copy the coded message from the DNA to an RNA molecule. This process is called transcription.

Transcription has several steps:
1.

The strands of DNA are separated by the helicase enzyme.

2. An enzyme called RNA polymerase starts adding complementary RNA nucleotides to one of the separated DNA strands. The nucleotides are joined together by the ligase enzyme. 3. When RNA polymerase reaches a “stop sign” in the DNA strand, it stops transcribing and releases the newly formed RNA strand. The RNA leaves the nucleus for the cytoplasm, where it can be used to make proteins. 4. The separated DNA strands come back together.

Check it out!

More pictures of transcription

Hey look, it’s more pictures of transcription!

Now the mRNA can take the genetic message out the cytosol, where it can be used to make proteins! Stay tuned for the next installment of this cellular saga to find out how it happens …

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