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definition - Translation (genetics)

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Translation (genetics)

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This article is part of the series on:

Gene expression
a Molecular biology topic (portal)
(Glossary)

Introduction to Genetics
General flow: DNA > RNA > Protein
special transfers (RNA > RNA,
RNA > DNA, Protein > Protein)
Genetic code
Transcription
Transcription (Transcription factors,
RNA Polymerase,promoter)

Prokaryotic / Archaeal / Eukaryotic

post-transcriptional modification
(hnRNA,Splicing)
Translation
Translation (Ribosome,tRNA)

Prokaryotic / Archaeal / Eukaryotic

post-translational modification
(functional groups, peptides,
structural changes
)
gene regulation
epigenetic regulation
(Genomic imprinting)
transcriptional regulation
post-transcriptional regulation
(sequestration,
alternative splicing,miRNA)
translational regulation
post-translational regulation
(reversible,irreversible)
ask a question , edit

Translation is the first stage of protein biosynthesis (part of the overall process of gene expression). Translation is the production of proteins by decoding mRNA produced in transcription. Translation occurs in the cytoplasm where the ribosomes are located. Ribosomes are made of a small and large subunit which surrounds the mRNA. In translation, messenger RNA (mRNA) is decoded to produce a specific polypeptide according to the rules specified by the genetic code. This uses a mRNA sequence as a template to guide the synthesis of a chain of amino acids that form a protein. Many types of transcribed RNA, such as transfer RNA, ribosomal RNA, and small nuclear RNA are not necessarily translated into an amino acid sequence.

Translation proceeds in four phases: activation, initiation, elongation and termination (all describing the growth of the amino acid chain, or polypeptide that is the product of translation). Amino acids are brought to ribosomes and assembled into proteins.

In activation, the correct amino acid is covalently bonded to the correct transfer RNA (tRNA). While this is not technically a step in translation, it is required for translation to proceed. The amino acid is joined by its carboxyl group to the 3' OH of the tRNA by a peptide bond. When the tRNA has an amino acid linked to it, it is termed "charged". Initiation involves the small subunit of the ribosome binding to 5' end of mRNA with the help of initiation factors (IF). Termination of the polypeptide happens when the A site of the ribosome faces a stop codon (UAA, UAG, or UGA). When this happens, no tRNA can recognize it, but a releasing factor can recognize nonsense codons and causes the release of the polypeptide chain.The 5' end of the mRNA gives rise to the protein's N-terminus, and the direction of translation can therefore be stated as N->C.

A number of antibiotics act by inhibiting translation; these include anisomycin, cycloheximide, chloramphenicol, tetracycline, streptomycin, erythromycin, and puromycin, among others. Prokaryotic ribosomes have a different structure from that of eukaryotic ribosomes, and thus antibiotics can specifically target bacterial infections without any detriment to a eukaryotic host's cells.

Contents

Basic mechanisms

See articles at prokaryotic translation and eukaryotic translation
Diagram showing the translation of mRNA and the synthesis of proteins by a ribosome
The mRNA carries genetic information encoded as a ribonucleotide sequence from the chromosomes to the ribosomes. The ribonucleotides are "read" by translational machinery in a sequence of nucleotide triplets called codons. Each of those triplets codes for a specific amino acid.

The ribosome and tRNA molecules translate this code to a specific sequence of amino acids. The ribosome is a multisubunit structure containing rRNA and proteins. It is the "factory" where amino acids are assembled into proteins. tRNAs are small noncoding RNA chains (74-93 nucleotides) that transport amino acids to the ribosome. tRNAs have a site for amino acid attachment, and a site called an anticodon. The anticodon is an RNA triplet complementary to the mRNA triplet that codes for their cargo amino acid.

Aminoacyl tRNA synthetase (an enzyme) catalyzes the bonding between specific tRNAs and the amino acids that their anticodons sequences call for. The product of this reaction is an aminoacyl-tRNA molecule. This aminoacyl-tRNA travels inside the ribosome, where mRNA codons are matched through complementary base pairing to specific tRNA anticodons. The amino acids that the tRNAs carry are then used to assemble a protein. The energy required for translation of proteins is significant. For a protein containing n amino acids, the number of high-energy Phosphate bonds required to translate it is 4n-1[citation needed].The rate of translation varies; it is significantly higher in prokaryotic cells (up to 17-21 amino acid residues per second) than in eukaryotic cells (up to 6-7 amino acid residues per second) [1]

Genetic code

Whereas other aspects such as the 3D structure, called tertiary structure, of protein can only be predicted using sophisticated algorithms, the amino acid sequence, called primary structure, can be determined solely from the nucleic acid sequence with the aid of a translation table.

This approach may not give the correct amino acid composition of the protein, in particular if unconventional amino acids such as selenocysteine are incorporated into the protein, which is coded for by a conventional stop codon in combination with a downstream hairpin (SElenoCysteine Insertion Sequence, or SECIS).

There are many computer programs capable of translating a DNA/RNA sequence into a protein sequence. Normally this is performed using the Standard Genetic Code; many bioinformaticians have written at least one such program at some point in their education. However, few programs can handle all the "special" cases, such as the use of the alternative initiation codons. For example, the rare alternative start codon CTG codes for Methionine when used as a start codon, and for Leucine in all other positions.

Example: Condensed translation table for the Standard Genetic Code (from the NCBI Taxonomy webpage).

   AAs  = FFLLSSSSYY**CC*WLLLLPPPPHHQQRRRRIIIMTTTTNNKKSSRRVVVVAAAADDEEGGGG Starts = ---M---------------M---------------M---------------------------- Base1  = TTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG Base2  = TTTTCCCCAAAAGGGGTTTTCCCCAAAAGGGGTTTTCCCCAAAAGGGGTTTTCCCCAAAAGGGG Base3  = TCAGTCAGTCAGTCAGTCAGTCAGTCAGTCAGTCAGTCAGTCAGTCAGTCAGTCAGTCAGTCAG

Translation tables

Even when working with ordinary Eukaryotic sequences such as the Yeast genome, it is often desired to be able to use alternative translation tables—namely for translation of the mitochondrial genes. Currently the following translation tables are defined by the NCBI Taxonomy Group for the translation of the sequences in GenBank:

 1: The Standard  2: The Vertebrate Mitochondrial Code  3: The Yeast Mitochondrial Code  4: The Mold, Protozoan, and Coelenterate Mitochondrial Code  and the Mycoplasma/Spiroplasma Code  5: The Invertebrate Mitochondrial Code  6: The Ciliate, Dasycladacean and Hexamita Nuclear Code  9: The Echinoderm and Flatworm Mitochondrial Code10: The Euplotid Nuclear Code 11: The Bacterial and Plant Plastid Code 12: The Alternative Yeast Nuclear Code 13: The Ascidian Mitochondrial Code 14: The Alternative Flatworm Mitochondrial Code 15: Blepharisma Nuclear Code 16: Chlorophycean Mitochondrial Code 21: Trematode Mitochondrial Code 22: Scenedesmus obliquus mitochondrial Code 23: Thraustochytrium Mitochondrial Code

Software examples

Example of computational translation - notice the indication of (alternative) start-codons:

VIRTUAL RIBOSOME----Translation table: Standard SGC0 >Seq1Reading frame: 1    M  V  L  S  A  A  D  K  G  N  V  K  A  A  W  G  K  V  G  G  H  A  A  E  Y  G  A  E  A  L  5' ATGGTGCTGTCTGCCGCCGACAAGGGCAATGTCAAGGCCGCCTGGGGCAAGGTTGGCGGCCACGCTGCAGAGTATGGCGCAGAGGCCCTG 90   >>>...)))..............................................................................)))     E  R  M  F  L  S  F  P  T  T  K  T  Y  F  P  H  F  D  L  S  H  G  S  A  Q  V  K  G  H  G  5' GAGAGGATGTTCCTGAGCTTCCCCACCACCAAGACCTACTTCCCCCACTTCGACCTGAGCCACGGCTCCGCGCAGGTCAAGGGCCACGGC 180   ......>>>...))).......................................))).................................     A  K  V  A  A  A  L  T  K  A  V  E  H  L  D  D  L  P  G  A  L  S  E  L  S  D  L  H  A  H  5' GCGAAGGTGGCCGCCGCGCTGACCAAAGCGGTGGAACACCTGGACGACCTGCCCGGTGCCCTGTCTGAACTGAGTGACCTGCACGCTCAC 270   ..................)))..................)))......))).........)))......)))......))).........     K  L  R  V  D  P  V  N  F  K  L  L  S  H  S  L  L  V  T  L  A  S  H  L  P  S  D  F  T  P  5' AAGCTGCGTGTGGACCCGGTCAACTTCAAGCTTCTGAGCCACTCCCTGCTGGTGACCCTGGCCTCCCACCTCCCCAGTGATTTCACCCCC 360   ...)))...........................))).........))))))......)))..............................     A  V  H  A  S  L  D  K  F  L  A  N  V  S  T  V  L  T  S  K  Y  R  *  5' GCGGTCCACGCCTCCCTGGACAAGTTCTTGGCCAACGTGAGCACCGTGCTGACCTCCAAATACCGTTAA 429   ...............))).........)))..................)))...............*** Annotation key:>>> : START codon (strict)))) : START codon (alternative)*** : STOP

See also

References

  1. ^ Ross JF, Orlowski M (February 1982). [Expression error: Missing operand for > "Growth-rate-dependent adjustment of ribosome function in chemostat-grown cells of the fungus Mucor racemosus"]. J. Bacteriol. 149 (2): 650–3. PMID 6799491. 
  • Champe, Pamela C; Harvey, Richard A; Ferrier, Denise R (2004). Lippincott's Illustrated Reviews: Biochemistry (3rd ed.). Hagerstwon, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. ISBN 0-7817-2265-9. 
  • Cox, Michael; Nelson, David R.; Lehninger, Albert L (2005). Lehninger principles of biochemistry (4th ed.). San Francisco...: W.H. Freeman. ISBN 0-7167-4339-6. 

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