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Ch. 17- Transcription and Translation The central dogma of biology is DNA makes RNA. RNA makes protein and protein runs the cell. So, DNA is responsible, or is called the blueprint, for everything in the cell. The first step of translation, which is the synthesis of RNA under the direction of DNA, is called initiation. The promoter of a gene, which typically extends “upstream from the start point”, signals the start of RNA synthesis. In addition to serving as a binding site for RNA polymerase and determining where transcription stars, the promoter determines which of the two strands of the DNA helix is used as the template. The TATA box is an important DNA sequence of the promoter that assists in the binding of RNA polymerase. A collection of proteins called transcription factors help RNA polymerase to bind to the promoter and signal the beginning of transcription. The completed assembly of transcription factors and RNA polymerase 2 bound to the promoter is called the initiation complex. During the next step, elongation, the RNA polymerase begins to move along the DNA, untwisting the double helix, 10 to 20 bases at a time. The double helix immediately reforms and the RNA strand begins to peal away. As this happens, RNA polymerase adds nucleotides to the 3’ end of the growing RNA molecule. Polymerase reads 3’ to 5’, but adds 5’ to 3’. A gene can be transcribed simultaneously by several RNA polymerases, which will increase the amount of mRNA that is produced. The third step of transcription is called Termination. This step differs in prokaryotes and eukaryotes. In prokaryotes, the polymerase stops transcription at the end of the terminator, causing the polymerase to detach from the DNA and release the transcript, which is available for immediate use as mRNA. In eukaryotes, the pre-mRNA is cleaved from the growing chain while the polymerase continues to transcribe the DNA, a specific sequence AAUAAA in the pre-mRNA. Eventually the polymerase falls of the DNA, signaling the end of transcription. Next, the eukaryotic pre-mRNA must be modified during RNA processing. First, the 5’end is capped with a modified version of of a guanine nucleotide, forming a 5’ cap. A poly-A-tail, which is the addition of 50 to 250 adenine nucleotide, is added to the 3’ end of a mRNA molecule. These two modifications seem to facilitate the export of mRNA, protect mRNA from hydrolytic enzymes in the cytosol, and facilitate the attachment of ribosomes to the 5’ end of the RNA to begin translation. Next, non-coding nucleotides, called introns, need to be cut out.