This brief animation demonstrates the process by which messenger RNA (mRNA) is translated into protein. RNA is present in several forms—messenger RNA (mRNA), transfer RNA (tRNA), and ribosomal RNA (rRNA). Each of these RNA forms is involved in different steps of protein synthesis. mRNA is generated from DNA and is the template for protein synthesis. tRNA is critical to the translation of the mRNA sequence into protein sequence. rRNA are components of the ribosomes, which are the sites of protein synthesis.
The determination of the mechanism of protein synthesis has increased understanding of many genetic processes and permitted such developments as bioengineering. This animation will be useful to students to help them visualize the molecular basis of genetics. It should be used after students have had basic instruction in DNA and RNA. Students should understand that proteins are large, complex molecules made up of smaller subunits called amino acids. Chemical properties that distinguish the 20 different amino acids cause the protein chains to fold up into specific three-dimensional structures that define their particular functions in the cell.