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Biology LibreTexts

19: The Genetic Code

  • Page ID
    • 19.1: The Function of Genes
    • 19.2: An Overview of the Genetic Code
      The genetic code is the information for linking amino acids into polypeptides in an order based on the base sequence of 3-base code words (codons) in a gene and its messenger RNA (mRNA). With a few exceptions (some prokaryotes, mitochondria, chloroplasts), the genetic code is universal – it’s the same in all organisms from viruses and bacteria to humans.
    • 19.3: Gene and Protein Colinearity and Triplet Codons
      Serious efforts to understand how proteins are encoded began after Watson and Crick used the experimental evidence of Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin (among others) to determine the structure of DNA. Most hypotheses about the genetic code assumed that DNA (i.e., genes) and polypeptides were colinear.
    • 19.4: Translation
      Like any polymerization in a cell, translation occurs in three steps: initiation brings a ribosome, mRNA and an initiator tRNA together to form an initiation complex. Elongation is the successive addition of amino acids to a growing polypeptide. Termination is signaled by sequences (one of the stop codons) in the mRNA and protein termination factors that interrupt elongation and release a finished polypeptide. The events of translation occur at specific A, P and E sites on the ribosome.