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Biology: Transcription and Translation Overview

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About this Lesson

  • Type: Video Tutorial
  • Length: 10:33
  • Media: Video/mp4
  • Use: Watch Online & Download
  • Access Period: Unrestricted
  • Download: MP4 (iPod compatible)
  • Size: 114 MB
  • Posted: 02/11/2009

This lesson is part of the following series:

Biology Course (390 lessons, $198.00)
Biology: Final Exam Test Prep and Review (42 lessons, $59.40)
Biology: Genetics: DNA & Replication (35 lessons, $54.45)
Biology Review (19 lessons, $27.72)
Biology: Transcription (4 lessons, $6.93)

To understand transcription and translation, Professor Wolfe states that you must first understand the "central dogma" that DNA makes RNA and RNA makes proteins. But how is this infromation communicated? Through transcription, which is the process where DNA information is coded into RNA, and translation which is the process of converting the mRNA molecule by ribosome into polypeptide strand. This process happens in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells, but in Eukaryotic cells translation takes place outside of the nucleus. Professor Wolfe also discusses the three different types of RNA, mRNA, tRNA, and rRNA. He explains rRNA and how is used to help translate the mRNA.

This lesson is perfect for review for a CLEP test, mid-term, final, summer school, or personal growth!

Taught by Professor George Wolfe, this lesson was selected from a broader, comprehensive course, Biology. This course and others are available from Thinkwell, Inc. The full course can be found at http://www.thinkwell.com/student/product/biology. The full course covers evolution, ecology, inorganic and organic chemistry, cell biology, respiration, molecular genetics, photosynthesis, biotechnology, cell reproduction, Mendelian genetics and mutation, population genetics and mutation, animal systems and homeostasis, evolution of life on earth, and plant systems and homeostasis.

George Wolfe brings 30+ years of teaching and curriculum writing experience to Thinkwell Biology. His teaching career started in Zaire, Africa where he taught Biology, Chemistry, Political Economics, and Physical Education in the Peace Corps. Since then, he's taught in the Western NY region, spending the last 20 years in the Rochester City School District where he is the Director of the Loudoun Academy of Science.

Besides his teaching career, Mr. Wolfe has also been an Emmy-winning television host, fielding live questions for the PBS/WXXI production of Homework Hotline as well as writing and performing in "Football Physics" segments for the Buffalo Bills and the Discover Channel.

His contributions to education have been extensive, serving on multiple advisory boards including the Cornell Institute of Physics Teachers, the Cornell Institute of Biology Teachers and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics SportSmarts curriculum project. He has authored several publications including "The Nasonia Project", a lab series built around the genetics and behaviors of a parasitic wasp.

He has received numerous awards throughout his teaching career including the NSTA Presidential Excellence Award, The National Association of Biology Teachers Outstanding Biology Teacher Award for New York State, The Shell Award for Outstanding Science Educator, and was recently inducted in the National Teaching Hall of Fame.

About this Author

Thinkwell
Thinkwell
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11/13/2008

Founded in 1997, Thinkwell has succeeded in creating "next-generation" textbooks that help students learn and teachers teach. Capitalizing on the power of new technology, Thinkwell products prepare students more effectively for their coursework than any printed textbook can. Thinkwell has assembled a group of talented industry professionals who have shaped the company into the leading provider of technology-based textbooks. For more information about Thinkwell, please visit www.thinkwell.com or visit Thinkwell's Video Lesson Store at http://thinkwell.mindbites.com/.

Thinkwell lessons feature a star-studded cast of outstanding university professors: Edward Burger (Pre-Algebra through...

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Recent Reviews

Nopic_grn
Biology: Transcription & translation
01/19/2012
~ sheniz

I think this guy is fantastic. He makes learning a difficult subject alot easier! I wish he was my teacher.

Nopic_gry
okay
05/04/2011
~ 77theosealy

wow, doesn't cover that much stuff and is still 10 mins long...... id just read the book.

Nopic_blu
Good, but wanted more for my money.
03/24/2011
~ Linda34

I thought it was good and very helpful, but i thought since i paid i wouldnt just get "the big picture" of stuff. I expected in depth for my money.

Nopic_orng
DNA - RNA
01/24/2011
~ miste

I found the lecture to be very helpful. It was explained in terms I could understand,,, with some visual aids. I only wish it would have gone longer than 10 minutes though. I enjoyed the man who was giving the lecture. He was organized and easy to "follow".

Nopic_orng
thankss ! (:
12/03/2010
~ Mahnaz

This helped so much, and i love how he is so excited about it. it makes it easier to learn. Thanks so much ! (:

Nopic_grn
Biology: Transcription & translation
01/19/2012
~ sheniz

I think this guy is fantastic. He makes learning a difficult subject alot easier! I wish he was my teacher.

Nopic_gry
okay
05/04/2011
~ 77theosealy

wow, doesn't cover that much stuff and is still 10 mins long...... id just read the book.

Nopic_blu
Good, but wanted more for my money.
03/24/2011
~ Linda34

I thought it was good and very helpful, but i thought since i paid i wouldnt just get "the big picture" of stuff. I expected in depth for my money.

Nopic_orng
DNA - RNA
01/24/2011
~ miste

I found the lecture to be very helpful. It was explained in terms I could understand,,, with some visual aids. I only wish it would have gone longer than 10 minutes though. I enjoyed the man who was giving the lecture. He was organized and easy to "follow".

Nopic_orng
thankss ! (:
12/03/2010
~ Mahnaz

This helped so much, and i love how he is so excited about it. it makes it easier to learn. Thanks so much ! (:

Nopic_gry
Leaves a bit to be desired...
11/18/2010
~ Jessica30

This is a very helpful review of the types of RNA but it doesn't really get into how DNA translation or transcription are done. Way too vague for a lesson that I had to pay for.

Nopic_grn
Awesome!
09/19/2010
~ NICOLE12

I can not tell you how much these help!!!!

Nopic_gry
transcription/translation
06/30/2010
~ Emily8

That was very helpful! It makes so much more sense when the teacher is excited about it!

Molecular Genetics
Transcription
Transcription and Translation: An Overview

What is the true secret to life? I know that’s a question you ask yourselves daily. And let me just tell you that we are
about to probe the true secret to life. How does life really work? And it comes right down to this idea called the
“central dogma” that DNA makes RNA and RNA makes protein. Whether you are a prokaryote or a eukaryote.
Whether you are a photosynthetic organism, like a plant, or a heterotrophic organism, like an animal. DNA makes
RNA and RNA makes protein. It’s the secret to life.
Now don’t forget that actually, we linked genes to proteins in the days of Beadle and Tatum when Beadle and Tatum
came up with this idea of one gene/one enzyme, which is now been relegated to one gene/one polypeptide. Well
don’t forget what a polypeptide is. A polypeptide is a chain of amino acids and these amino acids are bound by
peptide bonds. So it seems then, to look at the biggest picture of all, that the role of DNA is to somehow get a
message from the nucleus to the cell of making a protein – making a polypeptide. And we call that transcription and
translation. And that’s what I want to talk to you about, at least briefly, right now – transcription and translation. Now
you guys remember, I’m sure, you’ve thought a lot about the genetic material. And one of the primary goals of having
a genetic material is the ability, not just to carry a code. We know about DNA’s code and how it’s replicated. And not
to be able to pass that code on, because we know about that DNA code and how it’s passed on. But now we come to
some of the magic of the rest of story of DNA and the way it works in a cell. How does that DNA talk to that cell
machinery and make those proteins? How does that DNA manage to make those polypeptides? There’s the answer
right there, you guys – transcription and translation – two words that don’t sound biological to you, and that’s good
news, because they just should make sense.
When you transcribe something, what does a scribe do? A scribe copies something. And copying something is nice.
But unless there’s something to read that copy, it’s useless. Think of the ancient monks in the monasteries scribing all
of the written work that was ever made. Well, they had a master copy, and they had to make those master copies and
move them outward, so that people could partake of that knowledge. Well that’s the same analogy I want you to think
with DNA and RNA. We’re going to transcribe it and then we have to translate it into a language that makes sense.
Sense to who? Sense to the cell – the language of enzymes. That’s where we’re going with this.
Now, I want you to understand that, I said a second ago, prokaryotes and eukaryotes do this the same way, to a
degree. Remember that prokaryotes do not have nuclear membranes and therefore, don’t have the
compartmentalization that you and have as eukaryotic cells. But nevertheless, it’s the same thing. We start with
DNA. We transcribe it into a message, called RNA. Now we’re going to talk about the different types of RNA in just a
second. But notice this particular one is called mRNA, which stands for messenger RNA. And then that message is
going to be translated, and this all happens, and the translation occurs with a structure called the ribosome – I know
you’ve heard of those – and a polypeptide is made. Cool stuff. And you’re no different, except you get to
compartmentalize all of this. So you get to do some of it in the nucleus and some of it outside of the nucleus. You do
your transcription in your nucleus. Why? Because that’s where the DNA is. That’s where that the master role – that
master book – is.
In fact, let’s compare DNA to a recording. It’s like a recording. It’s a master tape. And in that master tape, you’re
going to want to make copies and get them out, but you don’t want to mess with that master tape. You mess up your
master tape, you’ve messed up your whole story, haven’t you? So you’ve got to have some write protection in there,
and that’s your phosphate backbone and that’s your ATGC bonds. That’s going to hold DNA tight. So you’re not
going to mess with this master tape. But you can copy it and you can transcribe it and so when you go to transcribe it
into little tapes within a cell. So we’re going to sell those tapes and we’re going to get them out of the nucleus, so
we’re going to distribute them. And then comes the idea of translating. So we’re going to need to use this whole tape
analogy again. We’re going to need a head to somehow make that magnetic signal and use that magnetic signal and
produce the music of proteins. We’re going to use that to produce the music of polypeptides. There’s a great analogy
for you.
But it’s the same thing – transcription, translation. Transcription inside, a little bit of stuff called RNA processing, and
translation. All right, that’s the big picture. Let’s spiral in just a little bit for just a few minutes. So what is the
machinery we’re talking about and who’s talking to who? Well, I got to tell you about RNA – very briefly. There are
three kinds of RNA. The first kind that we’re going to talk about is going to be called messenger RNA, or mRNA, and
that’s your tape. That’s the tape. That’s the copy. This carries the message. So, for example, if DNA is going to
make RNA, it’s going to make something just following the same code of DNA, and I’ll show you how it does that in a
second. First of all, I’m going to tell you about the other two kinds of RNA.
Molecular Genetics
Transcription
Transcription and Translation: An Overview Page [2 of 2]
The second kind of RNA is called tRNA. Now remember what this is supposed to be about? We’re supposed to
making polypeptides. Well, to make polypeptides – remind yourselves, what’s a polypeptide? It’s a protein. What’s a
protein? A chain of amino acids. So somehow, mRNA has got to say, “Okay, I want this amino acid here. I want this
amino acid here. I want this amino acid here.” Somebody’s got to do that work. Somebody’s got to bring those RNA
those little amino acids. Somebody’s got to be the head that’s going to make the music. tRNA is going to transfer and
bring amino acids to the mRNA. How? I’m not going to tell you right now. We’re going to get there.
A third kind of RNA, called ribosomal RNA. The ribosomal RNA is literally the cassette player. The ribosomal RNA is
going to play the music. So the ribosomal RNA is going to form the machinery. It’s going to form the ribosome. Real
general overview, but that’s going to help us a lot as we go through this unit.
Now, one last thing – big deal, how you going to do this? Well, let’s think about it. Let’s just say I have a DNA strand.
I’m just going to show you one strand right in the middle. So here’s my DNA and this is the strand we want to make –
we want to turn into a message – a polypeptide. And let’s just make this thing TTTCCG, blah, blah, blah – and blah,
blah, blah on this side. And I’m in the middle here. Okay, watch this. The first thing you’re going to do is DNA makes
RNA transcription. You know that RNA consists of ribonucleotides. Ribonucleotides are just like
deoxyribonucleotides, except for two differences: one, no deoxyribose and they don’t contain thymine. There’s no
such thing as a ribonucleotide with thymine. Instead, there’s uracil.
So let’s see what ‘s going to happen here. We’re going to make an RNA strand: blah, blah, blah, AAAGGC, blah,
blah, blah. That’s going to separate, and this is called transcription. So now we’re going to have an RNA strand, we’ll
call it mRNA – AAAGGC. Okay, but how do we know what this means? Are these words? Is it one A, is it 2 A’s?
How is this translated? Which brings us to translation. And you see, this is going to be read in triplets, which we’re
going to call codons. Now how do we know about that? I’ll tell you about that later. But it’s going to be read in
codons.
And here’s the thing. These codons are going to call for an amino acid. AAA is going to say, “Bring me this amino
acid.” You know what? We even know which amino acid it’s going to bring, because we have figured out, for your
viewing pleasure, science has figured out something called the genetic code. So take, for example, AAA. I’ll show
you how to read this right now. A is the first base, or nucleotide. See, it says first base here. That’s not a baseball
term. Okay, this is the first nucleotide. Now we go to the second base, A. So we kind of go in this column and now
we look for the third base, A. I picked AAA because I knew is going to be easy for us. AAA says, “Give me lysine!”
And that’s exactly what happens. Lysine is brought in there. How cool is that?
Now I hope you’re not saying, “Oh, I get it,” because I haven’t explained it all yet. But do you get the big picture?
DNA makes RNA. RNA calls for amino acids. Amino acids are assembled in that tape player called the ribosome.
We’re just going to get down and really look at this stuff next.

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