|From genes to proteins. In the cell nucleus, RNA is produced by transcription, in much the same way that DNA replicates itself. RNA, however, substitutes the sugar ribose for deoxyribose and the base uracil for thymine, and is usually single-stranded. One form of RNA, messenger RNA or mRNA, conveys the DNA recipe for protein synthesis to the cell cytoplasm. There, bound temporarily to a cytoplasmic particle known as a ribosome, each three-base codon of the mRNA links to a specific form of transfer RNA (tRNA) containing the complementary three-base sequence. This tRNA, in turn, transfers a single amino acid to a growing protein chain. Each codon thus unambiguously directs the addition of one amino acid to the protein. On the other hand, the same amino acid can be added by different codons; in this illustration, the mRNA sequences GCA and GCC are both specifying the addition of the amino acid alanine (Ala).|
To Know Ourselveswas prepared at the request of the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Health and Environmental Research, as an overview of the Human Genome Project.