Introduction to Translation

What you’ll learn to do: Summarize the process of translation

Take a moment to look at your hands. The bone, skin, and muscle you see are made up of cells. And each of those cells contains many millions of proteins. As a matter of fact, proteins are key molecular “building blocks” for every organism on Earth!

How are these proteins made in a cell? For starters, the instructions for making proteins are “written” in a cell’s DNA in the form of genes. Basically, a gene is used to build a protein in a two-step process:

  • Step 1: Transcription (which we just learned about)! Here, the DNA sequence of a gene is “rewritten” in the form of RNA. In eukaryotes like you and me, the RNA is processed (and often has a few bits snipped out of it) to make the final product, called a messenger RNA or mRNA.
  • Step 2: Translation! In this stage, the mRNA is “decoded” to build a protein (or a chunk/subunit of a protein) that contains a specific series of amino acids.


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