Genes are essential for guiding the production of proteins. A vast majority of them carry information about the specific order in which amino acids need to be assembled into a protein, while the remainder of them are responsible for the production of molecules that assist in protein assembly.
This entire process from genes to proteins is long and complicated, but understanding it is crucial. It consists of several steps that together make up gene expression. They are vital for recombinant protein expression. But before we go into the relationship between genes and proteins, we need to be aware of precisely what they are, so let’s take a closer look.
What Exactly Are Genes?
A gene is a hereditary unit found in all living organisms. It’s located in the DNA strands known as chromosomes. It contains genetic information that’s passed onto offspring, determining many of the characteristics of the offspring, from how it looks, to how it behaves, and how it survives.
A gene consists of a specific sequence of four nucleotide bases, adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine. As a functional unit, every individual gene contains instructions for molecules that are needed to perform certain functions within a cell. In most cases, protein is the functional product of a gene.
What About Proteins?
Proteins, on the other hand, are molecules that are composed of one or several chains of amino acids. They’re an essential part of living organisms. In humans, they’re crucial for the creation of structural components - muscles, organs, hair, etc. - and they determine many of the characteristics of our bodies.
As an example, proteins determine the appearance of the organism – protein enzymes that synthesize melanin determine the color of our skin and hair. In flowers, there are protein enzymes that determine the color of the petals. But proteins are also essential for other processes – the body metabolism, or the ability to fight off infections.
Since a different sequence of amino acids creates different proteins, they need instructions that will determine their amino acid composition and their function. And this is where genes come into play.
How A DNA Sequence Of The Gene Determines The Production Of A Protein
So, as genes carry the information about the production of the proteins, that information needs to travel from the gene to the protein. Two distinct processes, namely, transcription and translation, make this happen.
The Process Of Transcription
The information carried by the gene’s DNA is used for the creation of a similar molecule within the cell nucleus – RNA. RNA is single-stranded and contains nucleotide bases adenine, cytosine, guanine, and uracil.
Being the carrier of the information from DNA on the production of protein, this type of RNA is known as messenger RNA or mRNA. mRNA carries the information from DNA out of the nucleus to the cytoplasm. This procedure is known as the process of transcription.
The Process Of Translation
Once the instructions of protein production from DNA reaches to the cytoplasm through mRNA, they need to be read and understood, aka translated. This process happens through ribosomes.
The ribosomes read the sequence of mRNA bases. Each sequence contains three bases known together as a codon. The codon has information for the production of one specific amino acid in a protein. One codon acts as a “start” codon, indicating where to start the translation, and there are three “stop” codons that indicate the end of a protein.
Since mRNA cannot actually assemble the protein and is just used as a blueprint, we need another molecule to do so. The molecule is known as transfer RNA or tRNA. tRNA assembles the protein one amino acid at a time within the cytoplasm until the ribosomes reach the “stop” codons and conclude the process.
The Bottom Line
The production of proteins is guided by the genes that direct the processes of transcription and translation. Without the information carried from the DNA to the mRNA and tRNA, the production of proteins would be impossible.
Understanding the process of transcription and translation allows us to modify the rearrangement of genetic material for the creation of new proteins. That’s why we can achieve recombinant protein expression and use it in research, medicine, production of therapeutic proteins for improving the treatment of certain diseases, and more.
Subscribe to our Trusted Health Club newsletter for more information about natural living tips, natural health, oral health and skincare. If you are looking for more health resources make sure to check out the Trusted Health Resources list.
Emma Gill is a passionate writer and guest blogger. She loves writing and sharing her knowledge of the health industry. She believes health is the real wealth and wants to spread her belief across the world. Apart from writing, she loves traveling and cooking.