Role of DNA
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Role of DNA in Protein Synthesis

DNA

DNA is similar in many ways to RNA, but there are some significant differences. It too, is made up of a sequence of nucleotides. That sequence of nucleotides is very important because it determines the sequence of nucleotides in messenger RNA, which in turn determines the sequence of amino acids in proteins, which in turn determines their function. We will take a close look at the structure of DNA later in the lesson.

 

DNA and Genetic Code

The sequence of the nucleotides in DNA can be referred to as the genetic code. Each portion of the nucleotide sequence in DNA that is responsible for the length and sequence of amino acids in one particular protein can be called a gene. Our DNA seems to be ultimately responsible for the size, shape and function of every protein that our bodies make. Similarly, the DNA of each plant and animal seems to be ultimately responsible for the size, shape and function of every protein that each of them makes.

That is a pretty broad and sweeping statement. Broad and sweeping statements like that tend to have limitations, and there are limitations here. Viruses for example, alter that statement somewhat, and perhaps we'll have time to look at that a little bit later on in the lesson.

Practice

To make sure you grasp the relationship between nucleic acids and proteins, take a moment to answer the following questions (which are also shown in Exercise 3 in your workbook). The answers are not given below. The importance of this exercise is in taking the time to compose your answers and put them in writing. Should you need to review any material, please do so. You may have your answers checked by showing them to the instructor in the lab or by e-mailing them to your on-line instructor.

Questions about the relationship of proteins and nucleic acids.

Why are proteins important?
What determines the function of a particular protein?
Where are proteins assembled?
What determines the sequence of amino acids in a protein?
What determines the sequence of nucleotides in mRNA?

 

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Clackamas Community College
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