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LEARNING TARGETS

1. Contrast RNA & DNA.

2. Explain the process of transcription.


THE ROLE OF RNA
• Watson and Crick solved the structure of DNA & easily
understood how DNA could be copied, but this did not explain
how genes actually worked.

• Further research discovered a second nucleic acid—RNA


(ribonucleic acid)

• RNA was the “missing link” to understanding how genes actually


worked.
DNA VS. RNA
SIMILARITIES DIFFERENCES

• Made up of 1. The sugar in RNA is


ribose (DNA =
nucleotides deoxyribose)
• A 5-carbon sugar
• A nitrogenous base 2. RNA is single stranded
• A phosphate group (DNA = double
stranded)

3. RNA contains Uracil


instead of Thymine
The differences between RNA & DNA make it easy for enzymes to tell the difference
between the two molecules
FUNCTIONS OF RNA
• Think of RNA as a “disposable copy” of DNA

• RNA has many functions, but it’s primary function is protein


synthesis

• Protein is made up of amino acids (the building blocks)

• Many aspects of our body, or our daily functions require the use
of at least one protein in one way or another.
• There are 3 different types of RNA with unique responsibilities.

• Messenger RNA: mRNA  Carry info from DNA to other parts of


the cell

• Ribosomal RNA: rRNA  found on the ribosomes (the site of


protein synthesis).
• Ribosomes are essentially rRNA & other proteins (up to 80
different ones!)

• Transfer RNA: tRNA  carries amino acids to the ribosome &


matches them to the coded mRNA message
RNA SYNTHESIS
• Requires a lot of energy, but the energy input is worth it.

• The process of making RNA takes place in a process known as transcription.

• Segments of DNA serve as templates to produce complementary RNA


molecules

• Uses “Chargaff’s Rule” of complimentary base-pairing. (more on this


later…)

• RNA polymerase = primary enzyme in RNA synthesis


• Helps to build/bind nucleotides together to form a chain of nucleotides
• RNA knows what part of DNA to copy due to promoters.

• Promoters are specific segments of DNA that signal to RNA


polymerase to start the process of transcription.

• There are also similar signals to tell RNA to stop the process of
transcription.
LEARNING TARGETS
1. Identify the genetic code and explain how it is read.

2. Summarize the process of translation.

3. Describe the “central dogma” of molecular biology.


THE GENETIC CODE
• STEP 1: Decoding the DNA message
• Transcribe DNA  RNA (specifically mRNA)

• The transcribed info has the code for a specific protein.

• Proteins are made from chains of polypeptides

• Polypeptides are made from amino acids

• REMEMBER: Amino acids are the “building block” of proteins,


just like nucleotides are the building blocks of nucleic acids
• The order of amino acids in a polypeptide determines the
function of the protein that is being built.

• Amino acid sequence is determined by reading the “genetic


code”
• Genetic code = the arrangements of letters, A, U, G, C found in
RNA
• The genetic code is read three “letters” at a time

• Each “word” is 3 bases long


• Each “word” is referred to as a CODON

• Each word corresponds to a single amino acid


HOW TO READ CODONS
• There are only 20 amino acids, but 64 different codons

• There will be certain amino acids that have multiple codons

• Use an amino acid chart…


IMPORTANT: You read the codon wheel/chart using
mRNA
• There are “punctuation” marks found within the code too  a
signal where to start and stop a polypeptide.

• Start codons signal where the polypeptide begins (MET)

• Stop codons signal where the polypeptide ends


• There are multiple stop codons
TRANSLATION
• The sequence of bases on mRNA provides the instructions for
amino acid assembly
• The order that the amino acids should appear.
• Think of it like following directions to assemble something
complex

• Ribosomes use the sequence of the codons in mRNA to


assemble amino acids into polypeptides  AKA Translation.

• STEP 2: Translation, but translation is a multi-step process.


• Remember: mRNA has come from the nucleus—it has the “message” from
DNA

1. Translation begins at the “start” codon. tRNA begins making an “anticodon”


whose base is the compliment of the mRNA strand.
 Each tRNA is the compliment of the mRNA

2. When an anticodon is complete, it joins the amino acid it codes for. On the
ribosome, the amino acid is “removed” from the tRNA (the “transfer” is
complete).
• The ribosome joins all of the amino acids into a polypeptide chain

3. This process continues until the ribosome reaches a “stop” codon, signaling
that that is the last amino acid and the polypeptide chain is now complete.
DNA--DNA DNA--RNA RNA--RNA

A T A U A U

T A T A U A

C G C G C G

G C G C G C
LET’S PRACTICE!
Example 1:

DNA: A T G G T A G C T A A C C T T
T A C C A T C G A T T G G A A
mRNA: A U G G U A G C U A A C C U U

tRNA: U A C C A U C G A U U G G A A

AA: MET-- VAL-- ALA --ASN-- LEU


TRY EXAMPLE 2 ON YOUR OWN…

DNA: C A G G A A T T G C T C G A T
G T C C T T A A C G A G C T A
mRNA: C A G G A A U U G C U C G A U

tRNA: G U C C U U A A C G A G C U A

AA: GLN—GLU ACID—LEU—LEU—ASP


THE MOLECULAR BASIS OF HEREDITY
• Genes contain instructions for building proteins
• Each of those proteins effect aspects of an organism
• Mendel: protein for pod shape, another protein for pod color,
etc…

• Scientists, specifically molecular biologists made a claim early


on, which has been known as the “Central Dogma of Molecular
Biology”

• “INFORMATION IS TRANSFERRED FROM DNA TO RNA TO


PROTEINS”
• The way in which that information is transferred (DNA  RNA 
Protein) is referred to a gene expression.

• Gene expression is the way in which genetic information is put


into action within a cell.

• Despite the variety among living things, we all share the same
genetic code and the same mechanism for gene expression.

• There is a remarkable unity of life at the molecular level.


LEARNING TARGETS
1. Define mutations and describe the different types of mutations.

2. Describe the effects mutations can have on genes.


MUTATIONS
• Mutations are
heritable
changes in
genetic
information
TYPES OF MUTATIONS
• Mutations can effect a single gene OR they can effect an entire
chromosome.

GENE MUTATIONS
• These are a result of a change in one (or a few) nucleotide.

• Sometimes they are called “point mutations” because they occur


at a single point in the DNA sequence.
• Point mutations typically occur during DNA replication

• Due to the nature of replication & cell division, once DNA has
been mutated, every cell that develops from the “original” will
also contain the error.

• There are 3 different types of point mutations


• Substitution
• Insertion
• Deletion
SUBSTITUTION
• When one nucleotide is replaced with another.
• Often only one codon is effected
• The amino acid may or may not be effected

EXAMPLE: THE—FAT—CAT—ATE—THE—RAT
SUBSTITUTION: THE—FAT—HAT—ATE—THE---RAT
INSERTION/DELETION
• When a nucleotide base is ADDED (insertion) or REMOVED
(deletion) from the DNA sequence

• Sometimes called “frameshift mutation” because the reading


frame has shifted in some way.

• They change the amino acid sequence from the point of the
mutation on and can alter a protein to the point that it no longer
functions.
EXAMPLE: THE—FAT—CAT—ATE—THE—RAT
INSERTION: THE—FAT—CAT—AAT—ETH---ERA--T

EXAMPLE: THE—FAT—CAT—ATE—THE—RAT
DELETION: THE—FAT—ATA—TET—HER---AT
CHROMOSOMAL MUTATIONS
• Effect the entire chromosome

• Deletion: part of the chromosome is deleted (several genes!)

• Duplication: part of the chromosome is duplicated


• Inversion: Changes the sequence of genes within a chromosome

• Translocation: when part of one chromosome breaks off and attaches to another
EFFECTS OF MUTATIONS
• Mutations can be caused by natural or artificial means.

• Many mutations are produced from errors in the genetic process


• Point mutations  DNA replication
• DNA inserts an incorrect base once in every 10 million bases

• Small changes can accumulate over time.


MUTAGENS
• Mutagens are chemical/physical factors that exist in an
environment that can cause mutations.

• Pesticides, second-hand smoke


• X-Rays
• Ultraviolet radiation
HARMFUL & HELPFUL MUTATIONS
• Not all mutations are created equal.

• Some mutations do not even effect the amino acid sequence,


some mutations can even be beneficial.

• The effects of mutations on genes vary widely. While some


mutations are beneficial, others can disrupt gene function and
cause negative effects.
HARMFUL EFFECTS
• Dramatic changes to protein function or gene activity.

• Disruption of normal biological functions

• Cancers  uncontrolled cell growth


• Worse case  death

• Sickle Cell Anemia  changes shape of RBC (and the ability to carry oxygen)
• Pain, stunted growth, high rate of infections
BENEFICIAL MUTATIONS
• Mutations often produce proteins with new or altered functions
that can be useful to organisms in different or changing
environments

• Insects have become resistant to certain pesticides


• Good for insects, not so good for humans

• Mutations in humans
• Increases in bone density (less common to break a bone)
• Increased resistance to HIV (virus that causes AIDS)

• We take advantage of good mutations when we can (polyploidy)