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Compare and contrast the structures of RNA and DNA.

Prokaryotes have one main strand of DNA that is arranged in a loop. The DNA is free floating in the cytoplasm of the cell.

Step 1: RNA polymerase binds to the promoter region of the DNA and this initiates transcription.

Step 2: RNA polymerase uncoils the DNA. Free nucleoside triphosphates bond to their complementary bases on the template strand (or antisense strand)

The mRNA is built in a 5 3 direction. Adenine bonds to uracil instead of thymine. As the nucleoside triphosphates bind they become nucleotides and release energy by losing two phosphate groups.

Step 3: RNA polymerase forms covalent bonds between the nucleotides until it reaches the terminator. The terminator signals the RNA polymerase to stop transcribing.

Step 4: The RNA polymerase is released and the mRNA separates from the DNA. The DNA rewinds.

Eukaryotic cells have their DNA contained inside the nuclear membrane. There are several long strands of DNA, instead of one single loop The strands of DNA are organized by being wound around structures called nucleosomes.

The human genome (as an example of eukaryotic DNA) contains 3 billion base pairs. But only 1.5 - 2% of the genome is transcribed and translated into proteins. The regions of DNA that code for proteins are referred to as unique or single copy genes

What about the remaining 98%?


Used to be called junk DNA Now we know that it has many functions such as genes for making tRNA and rRNA, regulatory DNA sequences, pseudogenes and repetitive DNA sequences (although we still dont know what most of it does) The repetitive sequences are different for each person and are used in DNA fingerprinting in crime scene investigations.

Even within the coding sequences (or genes) there is extra DNA that is not needed to make the final protein product. The mRNA is therefore processed before entering the cytoplasm to be translated into a protein, and all the non-necessary sections are removed.

The parts that are removed are called introns.

The parts that form the mature mRNA strand are called exons.

Exons are the DNA sequences that code for proteins while introns are the intervening sequences that have to be removed. Figure 7 shows the number of exons found in genes for three different groups of eukaryotes.

a) Determine the percentage of genes in yeast that have only 1 exon.(1) b) State the most common number of exons found in mammal genes (1) c) With reference to the data, discuss the statement the amount of non-coding DNA does seem to scale with complexity (3)

Read pages 203-206 in your textbook.