RNA - Transcription

Thursday, January 21, 2010


The differences in the composition of RNA and DNA have already been noted. In addition, RNA is not usually found as a double helix but as a single strand. However, the single polynucleotide strand may fold back on itself to form portions which have a double helix structure like the tertiary structure of proteins.

The biosynthesis of RNA, called transcription, proceeds in much the same fashion as the replication of DNA and also follows the base pairing principle. Again, a section of DNA double helix is uncoiled and only one of the DNA strands serves as a template for RNA polymerase enzyme to guide the synthesis of RNA. After the synthesis is complete, the RNA separates from the DNA and the DNA recoils into its helix.

The transcription of a single RNA strand is illustrated in the graphic on the left. One major difference is that the heterocyclic amine, adenine, on DNA codes for the incorporation of uracil in RNA rather than thymine as in DNA. Remember that thymine is not found in RNA and do not confuse the replacement of uracil in RNA for thymine in DNA in the transcription process. For example, thymine in DNA still codes for adenine on RNA not uracil, while the adenine on DNA codes for uracil in RNA.

Note that the new RNA (red) is identical to non coding DNA with the exception of uracil where thymine was located in DNA.

There are three major types of RNA which will be fully explained in a later section. Although RNA is synthesized in the nucleus, it migrates out of the nucleus into the cytoplasm where it is used in the synthesis of proteins.

RNA Transcription Process:

The RNA transcription process occurs in three stages: initiation, chain elongation, and termination.

The first stage occurs when the RNA Polymerase-Promoter Complex binds to the promoter gene in the DNA. This also allows for the finding of the start sequence for the RNA polymerase. The promoter enzyme will not work unless the sigma protein is present (shown in blue in graphic). Specific sequences on the non coding strand of DNA are recognized as the signal to start the unwinding process.


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