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The mRNA carries the message from the DNA, which controls all of the cellular activities in a cell. If a cell requires a certain protein to be synthesized, the gene for this product is “turned on” and the mRNA is synthesized through the process of transcription (see RNA Transcription ). The mRNA then interacts with ribosomes and other cellular machinery ( [link] ) to direct the synthesis of the protein it encodes during the process of translation (see Protein Synthesis ). mRNA is relatively unstable and short-lived in the cell, especially in prokaryotic cells, ensuring that proteins are only made when needed.

A diagram showing mRNA as a long strand with sets of 3 letters grouped; the left of the mRNA is labeled 3-prime, the right is labeled 5-prime. An oval labeled ribosome small subunit sits under the mRNA and spans 3 of the 3-letter groups. A larger dome (labeled ribosome large subunit) sits on top of the mRNA at this same region. The large subunit has 3 gaps where rectangles labeled tRNA sit. These rectangles each sit on a group of 3-letters on the mRNA at one end and contain an amino acid on the other end. The tRNA on the left has a single amino acid. The tRNA in the middle has a growing pepetide chain of many amino acids. The tRNA on the right as no amino acids and is leaving the ribosome.
A generalized illustration of how mRNA and tRNA are used in protein synthesis within a cell.

rRNA and tRNA are stable types of RNA. In prokaryotes and eukaryotes, tRNA and rRNA are encoded in the DNA, then copied into long RNA molecules that are cut to release smaller fragments containing the individual mature RNA species. In eukaryotes, synthesis, cutting, and assembly of rRNA into ribosomes takes place in the nucleolus region of the nucleus, but these activities occur in the cytoplasm of prokaryotes. Neither of these types of RNA carries instructions to direct the synthesis of a polypeptide, but they play other important roles in protein synthesis.

Ribosomes are composed of rRNA and protein. As its name suggests, rRNA is a major constituent of ribosomes , composing up to about 60% of the ribosome by mass and providing the location where the mRNA binds. The rRNA ensures the proper alignment of the mRNA, tRNA, and the ribosomes; the rRNA of the ribosome also has an enzymatic activity ( peptidyl transferase ) and catalyzes the formation of the peptide bonds between two aligned amino acids during protein synthesis. Although rRNA had long been thought to serve primarily a structural role, its catalytic role within the ribosome was proven in 2000. P. Nissen et al. “The Structural Basis of Ribosome Activity in Peptide Bond Synthesis.” Science 289 no. 5481 (2000):920–930. Scientists in the laboratories of Thomas Steitz (1940–) and Peter Moore (1939–) at Yale University were able to crystallize the ribosome structure from Haloarcula marismortui , a halophilic archaeon isolated from the Dead Sea. Because of the importance of this work, Steitz shared the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with other scientists who made significant contributions to the understanding of ribosome structure.

Transfer RNA is the third main type of RNA and one of the smallest, usually only 70–90 nucleotides long. It carries the correct amino acid to the site of protein synthesis in the ribosome. It is the base pairing between the tRNA and mRNA that allows for the correct amino acid to be inserted in the polypeptide chain being synthesized ( [link] ). Any mutations in the tRNA or rRNA can result in global problems for the cell because both are necessary for proper protein synthesis ( [link] ).

A diagram of the 2-dimentional tRNA which is a single long strand of RNA folded into a plus shape with loops on the sides and bottom. The regions where the tRNA is folded so that there are 2 parts of the strand forming the linear portions of the plus are held together by hydrogen bonds labeled intramolecular pairing. The loop at the bottom has a set of 3 letters that are complimentary to 3 letters on the mRNA. The top part of the plus has a single stranded end at the 3-prime end; this is attached to an amino acid. B) The 3-dimentional structure looks like single strand folded into a double stranded structure with a bend in the middle.
A tRNA molecule is a single-stranded molecule that exhibits significant intracellular base pairing, giving it its characteristic three-dimensional shape.
Structure and Function of RNA
Structure Short, unstable, single-stranded RNA corresponding to a gene encoded within DNA Longer, stable RNA molecules composing 60% of ribosome’s mass Short (70-90 nucleotides), stable RNA with extensive intramolecular base pairing; contains an amino acid binding site and an mRNA binding site
Function Serves as intermediary between DNA and protein; used by ribosome to direct synthesis of protein it encodes Ensures the proper alignment of mRNA, tRNA, and ribosome during protein synthesis; catalyzes peptide bond formation between amino acids Carries the correct amino acid to the site of protein synthesis in the ribosome
  • What are the functions of the three major types of RNA molecules involved in protein synthesis?

Rna as hereditary information

Although RNA does not serve as the hereditary information in most cells, RNA does hold this function for many viruses that do not contain DNA . Thus, RNA clearly does have the additional capacity to serve as genetic information. Although RNA is typically single stranded within cells, there is significant diversity in viruses. Rhinoviruses, which cause the common cold; influenza viruses; and the Ebola virus are single-stranded RNA viruses. Rotaviruses, which cause severe gastroenteritis in children and other immunocompromised individuals, are examples of double-stranded RNA viruses. Because double-stranded RNA is uncommon in eukaryotic cells, its presence serves as an indicator of viral infection. The implications for a virus having an RNA genome instead of a DNA genome are discussed in more detail in Viruses .

Key concepts and summary

  • Ribonucleic acid (RNA) is typically single stranded and contains ribose as its pentose sugar and the pyrimidine uracil instead of thymine. An RNA strand can undergo significant intramolecular base pairing to take on a three-dimensional structure.
  • There are three main types of RNA, all involved in protein synthesis.
  • Messenger RNA ( mRNA ) serves as the intermediary between DNA and the synthesis of protein products during translation.
  • Ribosomal RNA ( rRNA ) is a type of stable RNA that is a major constituent of ribosomes. It ensures the proper alignment of the mRNA and the ribosomes during protein synthesis and catalyzes the formation of the peptide bonds between two aligned amino acids during protein synthesis.
  • Transfer RNA ( tRNA ) is a small type of stable RNA that carries an amino acid to the corresponding site of protein synthesis in the ribosome. It is the base pairing between the tRNA and mRNA that allows for the correct amino acid to be inserted in the polypeptide chain being synthesized.
  • Although RNA is not used for long-term genetic information in cells, many viruses do use RNA as their genetic material.


Match the correct molecule with its description:

A. is a major component of ribosome
B. is a copy of the information in a gene
C. carries an amino acid to the ribosome

C, A, B

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Ribosomes are composed mostly of RNA.


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Double-stranded RNA is commonly found inside cells.


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Short answer

What are the differences between DNA nucleotides and RNA nucleotides?

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How is the information stored within the base sequence of DNA used to determine a cell’s properties?

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How do complementary base pairs contribute to intramolecular base pairing within an RNA molecule?

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If an antisense RNA has the sequence 5ʹAUUCGAAUGC3ʹ, what is the sequence of the mRNA to which it will bind? Be sure to label the 5ʹ and 3ʹ ends of the molecule you draw.

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Why does double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) stimulate RNA interference?

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Questions & Answers

HPV vaccine given to school children
Jayani Reply
Differentiation between electron, proton and neutron
Zainab Reply
proton .possitive charge electron . negative charge neutron . having no charge
proton positive charge. electron negative charge. And no charge of the neutron.
the nucleus is composed of electrons (-) charge and they turn around the Nucleon the Nucleon = neutron(no charge) + proton (+) a neutron can turn to a proton and vice versa (cuz they have the same mass=1)
what are the roles of microorganisms in human being
Buhari Reply
some causes disease, others are not disease causing
they're necessary in our digestive system+the skin,everywhere actually the number of them in the human body alone is higher(by millions)than the number of humans cells,they're indispensable in the food industry,others are fundamental to make medicines and more,what exactly are you asking about ?
What are the natural occurring elements found in organisms on earth?
Otu Reply
some of the naturally occurring elements found in organisms are carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen
some of them are carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, phosphorus and sulfur
what is Zika virus?
Somali Reply
Zika virus is a mosquito-borne flavivirus that was first identified in Uganda in 1947 in monkeys. 
intracellular vesicles are found in
Akshay Reply
how do i report widal slide results
Isaac Reply
how food can be used as a substrate for the growth of microorganisms
Ashi Reply
what is the importance of understanding chemistry in the field of microbiology and food technology?
Charmaine Reply
What is different between eukaryotes and prokcaryotic
Abia Reply
main difference is that eukaryotic cells possess membrane bound organelles
prokaryotes are primitive organisms that doesn't contain membrane bound nucleus or any orgenelle while in eukaryotes membrane bound orgenelles and nucleus is present
what s anatomy
jane Reply
its mean body structure, function, and systems
study of internal structure of living things
anatomy is the study structure of the made human
anotomy is the actual study of body internally and externally Which include how itis made. for what and what is need of this
la science anatomie c'est la science qui nous aide à étudier l'homme
Ancestor are they real
Rapheal Reply
yes of course
yes please
50 50, depending on the accuracy of the clan records.
Why protist is not a kingdom of Linnaeus 'S taxonomy?
Neha Reply
I dont know
Linnaeus used Aristotle's criteria for dividing living organisms into kingdoms. Plants are immobile and insensitive, while animals are mobile and sensitive. the creatures he saw through the microscope were mobile, so he attributed them to animals.
name the different types of media use in lab to detect the micro organisms
Shehzadi Reply
The different types of media used in the lab to detect the microorganisms is known as cell culture..
solid media or broth is used to grow and detect microorganisms
what is microbiology
the study of large living organisms
the study of organisms which are micro in range
what is autoclaving?
process for sterilization
is a machine used on the process of sterilisation
what is difference between hot air oven and autoclave as they both are used for sterilization ?
autoclave basically do moist heat sterilization while hot air oven do sterilization by dry heat.....
what is the microbe
which method out of these two is best?
why human have microbe
hi to all
depends on what to sterilize
what is knowledge
well idea
what are the importance of microbiologe to a nurse
Enny Reply
it enable a nurse to know the weight and height of a patient
it helps the nurse in way as to give first aid to patient on which basis doctor will take diagonos
disagree with both of you
Your Own idea
it helps a nurse to be able to counsel a patient /client
cell culture

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