What is Protein Synthesis?
Protein synthesis is the production of proteins using information found in DNA.
All about DNA!
Lets start out by reviewing a little bit about DNA. DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is the hereditary information of a cell. It is responsible for what you look like. Your genetic makeup is called your genotype, and your phenotype is the physical traits you have because of your DNA.
The Structure of DNA
DNA consists of two chains of information, coiled in the shape of a double helix (as shown in the pictures above). The two strands of DNA run in opposite directions. DNA consists of four nucleotide bases. Thymine (T) always pairs with Adenine (A), and Guanine (G) always pairs with Cytosine (C), when the two strands of DNA connect. Hydrogen bonds link the bases together, allowing the DNA to maintain its double helix shape. Phosphate and deoxyribose units hold the individual strands of DNA together; this makes up a backbone for the DNA.
For more pictures of DNA you can go to the following link:
Transcription is the first step in protein synthesis. It is the process in which DNA acts as a template in the synthesis of RNA within chromosomes.
Transcription has three steps:
There is one major difference with RNA then DNA. RNA has the nucleotide Uracil (U) instead of Thymine (T). This means, when the RNA is making a strand using the DNA as a template, whenever there is an Adenine (A) in the DNA, the RNA will pair a Uracil (U) nucleotide instead of a Thymine (T) nucleotide.
The picture below shows the overall process of transcription. The Process of RNA being created from a DNA template. You can observe the base pairings; especially that RNA has the nucleotide Uracil (U), instead of Thymine (T). It is also easy to notice that the two strands run in opposite directions. Also you will see the polymerase is responsible for the process.
RNA processing is the part of transcription in which the newly transcribed RNA becomes an mRNA strand, and ready to set out for a ribosome. Pre-mRNA is processed into mature RNA (mRNA) in three steps: capping, polyadenylation, and splicing. Capping is when a methylgylatuane cap is added to the 5’ end of the pre-mRNA. Polyadenylation is the addition of a poly-a-tail to the 3’ end of the pre-mRNA. Lastly splicing is when the introns are removed from the pre-mRNA and the exons are spliced together. The image below should give you a better understanding of RNA processing.
After processing the mRNA will leave the nucleus and enter the cytoplasm of the cell where it will meet a ribosome and undergo translation.
Translation involves taking the message that's in the messenger RNA and decoding that message from the language of nucleic acids to the language of proteins or polypeptides. For translation to occur, the messenger RNA goes to the cytoplasm where it is attached to a cellular a ribosome. Ribosomes are two part molecular assemblies consisting of various proteins plus a special kind of RNA called ribosomal RNA.
Another kind of RNA, called tRNA, carries amino acids to the mRNA when it is attached to a particular part of the ribosome's small subunit, called a binding site. An important feature of mRNA and how it is translated is the fact that each three nucleotides in the mRNA are called codons, and it is the codon that is translated. Thus the sequence of codons corresponds to the sequence of amino acids in the polypeptide. You will see that the tRNA molecules have a set of three nucleotide bases at one end that are complementary to a corresponding codon, the are called anti-codons. This is critical because the anti codons make the connection between the codons and the correct amino acids that go with each codon. Ultimately the amino acids are joined together by peptide bonds, forming a polypeptide chain.
Steps in Translation:
Initial steps: Messenger RNA is bound to ribosome with the start codon (AUG) at the P site. A transfer RNA molecule with the amino acid methionine (M) and the anticodon UAC has bound to the exposed start codon. The codon UCA is exposed at the A site.
A second transfer RNA molecule, with the anticodon AGU and the amino acid serine (S) has bound to the A site. The 2 amino acids are close enough to form a peptide bond between them.
A peptide bond has formed between M and S and the peptide is bound to the A site. The methionine transfer RNA leaves, and the P site is exposed.
The ribosome has moved along the messenger RNA one codon, bringing the peptide to the P site. This exposes the A site and the next transfer RNA, carrying alanine (A) is about to bind.
Another picutre of Translation
Now that you know all about translation take the following QUIZ to see how much you have learned!
Protein processing adds functionality to proteins, effects targeting of proteins, regulates protein activity, and increases the proteins mechanical strength.
During protein processing multiple polypeptide chains are folded into a proteins 3D shape, as shown below:
Polypeptides and proteins can be found in four levels of structure.
These four levels are:
Primary Structure- This is the sequence of amino acids in the polypeptide chain.
Secondary Structure- This is composed of an arrangement of amino acids, stabilized by hydrogen bonds. The 2 main secondary structures are the alpha helix and the beta-pleated sheet. There are structures other than these, but these two are the most stable. A single protein could contain many secondary structures.
Alpha Helix Beta-Pleated Sheet
Tertiary Structure- This is the 3D arrangement of atoms in a polypeptide chain, maintained my disulfide bonds (also called disulfide bridges).
Quaternary Structure- This is a term used to describe proteins that are made up of multiple polypeptide molecules (also called monomers). The arrangement of these monomers in the 3D protein is the quaternary structure. This structure is held together and stabilized by hydrophobic interactions.
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