What Is the Role of RNA in Protein Synthesis?

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  • 0:00 What Is Protein Synthesis?
  • 1:11 Role of mRNA in Transcription
  • 1:50 Role of mRNA in Translation
  • 2:14 Role of tRNA in Translation
  • 2:45 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Amanda Robb

Amanda holds a Masters in Science from Tufts Medical School in Cellular and Molecular Physiology. She has taught high school Biology and Physics for 8 years.

This lesson discusses the role of RNA in protein synthesis. We'll define protein synthesis and explore how RNA contributes to this important cellular process, then you can test your knowledge with a brief quiz.

What Is Protein Synthesis?

Imagine that an architecture firm wants to build a new school for your town. The architects create a blueprint that outlines the design of the building, and construction workers use the specifications to communicate with suppliers about the materials needed for the project. As the materials come in, the workers construct the building, and soon there's a brand new school for the community to use!

The basic principle of protein synthesis is quite similar to this building process. Communities need schools to grow and thrive, and cells need proteins for the same reason. And just as workers need a blueprint to complete a project, cells need a blueprint to construct protein. This blueprint is called ribonucleic acid (RNA), which is made up of small molecules called nucleotides and plays many important roles in cellular function. One such role is the building of new proteins for the cell, a process known as protein synthesis.

There are three types of RNA that aid in protein synthesis: mRNA, rRNA, and tRNA. Let's look at how each contributes to the two steps of the process: transcription and translation.

Role of mRNA in Transcription

The brain of the cell is deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). It holds all the important information regarding the cell. DNA lives inside a safe structure called the nucleus, which is much like the skull in that it keeps the brain safe. Together, the DNA and nucleus control all cell function by sending messages to the cell, directing it to make proteins, which are needed for cell structures and function. To make protein, we first need to make copies of DNA to send to the cell - a process called transcription. The original DNA is held safely in the nucleus, and the copies are called messenger RNA (mRNA).

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