Why It Matters: DNA Transcription and Translation

Why describe the conversion of DNA to RNA to proteins?

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Figure 1. Before buildings are created, plans are drawn up. The plans direct the construction process.

By now you’re familiar with genes and DNA sequences and how changes in the DNA can have a big impact. But the question still remains . . . how? How does DNA cause anything to happen?

Our bodies contain trillions of cells that need to be constructed in very precise ways. Much like when a construction company creates blueprints before they actually begin a project, your body needs some kind of plan to accomplish this.

DNA is acts as a blueprint. With this plan in every cell, your body is able to convert DNA into action molecules, which are proteins, by way of an intermediary, RNA. This idea is so central to biology that it is often called the central dogma of biology: DNA is transcribed to RNA which is translated to protein. This multi-step process is one of the reasons for the diversity we see in the world around us.

Learning Outcomes

  • Outline the process of eukaryotic transcription
  • Summarize the process of translation
  • Outline the process of prokaryotic transcription and translation
  • Identify the central dogma of life