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Central dogma of molecular biology

Discover the central dogma of molecular biology, the fundamental process that decodes our genetic information. Learn how DNA replicates itself, how DNA is transcribed into RNA, and how RNA is translated into proteins. Learn about the roles of nucleic acids and amino acids in this process.

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  • leaf green style avatar for user Zack Hanafi
    Just a note on the history. Watson and Crick discovered the structure of DNA and both scientists also made huge contributions to the understanding of all these processes. Neither "discovered" the central dogma but rather contributed to its understanding. It was Crick who coined the term Central Dogma.
    (38 votes)
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  • winston default style avatar for user Eka
    I was thinking of a kind of analogy that can help us not mix "transcription" and "translation".
    So we could imagine DNA as a book. The book is transformed into a script (=RNA).
    The script is then used to create something else - a movie(=protein).
    So the two nucleic acids are somehow similar because they are letters (C,G,A,T or U) on a piece of paper. That's why it's enough only to "transcript" the content from the original piece of paper to another just by changing it a little bit (T->U).
    But the protein is a whole different thing - like the movie! So it's necessary to "translate" it into this... digital thing... you get it! :))
    What do you think, is it a good analogy?
    (35 votes)
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    • leafers seed style avatar for user andriana0027
      I think that's a good analogy! I mean analogies are very personal. Here's the way I've always used to remember the differences between transcription and translation.
      Let's start with transcription, we're working from DNA to RNA. The one common thing between these two is they are both written in nucleotides. (A, T/U, G, or C). So when I think of transcription, I think of old-school scribes (you know, the people who take writings and make it look super nice and stuff). So I always think of DNA-> RNA as transcribing something from like print to cursive. Both are in the same language, just written differently. (English Print to English Cursive)
      Next to translation, This is going from RNA to Proteins. Now this time you're moving from nucleotides to amino acids which are totally different. So I think of plugging this through google translate and working with a whole new language. Like when you translate something from English to Spanish. So you're working with English (DNA and RNA) and translating it into Spanish (Proteins). Does that make sense? :)
      (19 votes)
  • female robot ada style avatar for user Chris Cartwright
    Journey to MEd School starts here. Bloody heck, here we go again.
    (25 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user sarahbogan082
    Alphabetically, transcription occurs before translation, so that's probably the most helpful thing to remember which happens first.
    (16 votes)
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  • leafers ultimate style avatar for user Livi.Musil
    Why isn't Rosalind Franklin acknowledged in the discovery?
    (14 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user ZK
    I hope the Science Community begins to point out the fact that Watson and Crick plagiarized of Rosalind Franklin's work on DNA structure. They are not the people who discovered the structure of DNA, and it is time to correct this historical inaccuracy.
    (7 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user ZK
    I know most texts state that Watson and Crick realizing not only the DNA structure but the central dogma too. The historical fact is that Rosalind Franklin is the person who worked on and discovered the structure of DNA. While it is difficult to challenge the prevalence of credit given to Watson and Crick, it is time to give the credit to Rosalind Franklin- the person who ACTUALLY discovered the structure of DNA.
    (9 votes)
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  • winston default style avatar for user adinsx0001
    Why is it referred to as dogma?
    (5 votes)
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    • male robot johnny style avatar for user Dododeda
      I hope someone discovers something about DNA soon that would completely rip the central "dogma" to shreds. They make this sound too much like a religion with its dogma. Just because someone called it "the central dogma" doesn't mean that it IS dogma. There are no facts in science; only observations.
      (2 votes)
  • leaf green style avatar for user 2453004866love
    Just a clarification. Yes, from DNA, we can tell the structure of the RNA (how it looks like), and vice versa, but from RNA, we will NOT be able to tell the exact structure of the protein! We will be able to translate the RNA into amino acid chains, which are the building blocks of our protein, but just knowing the chain of amino acids will give little information about how the protein will actually fold, and hence will not tell us about the actual/exact STRUCTURE of the protein but rather the COMPONENTS and some hints on how the protein may fold.
    Please let me know if I am misinterpreting the narrator's words
    (4 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user Gabriella Forchion
    So I just want to confirm..because the video had me a bit confused... you do not need to do replication before transcription right? Replication is just something that happens as needed by the cell cycle correct? You could technically transcribe and translate without the need for replication?
    (2 votes)
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Video transcript

- So what exactly is the central dogma of molecular biology? Well, really it could just be called the central dogma of all of life because it explains how you and I take this conglomeration of genetic information from each of our parents, and how this information gets transferred into generating a full-blown human being, like you and me. So some very clever scientists, Francis Crick and James Watson, or "Watson and Crick," as they're often referred to as, are credited with discovering this dogma, which they say deals with the detailed residue-by-residue transfer of sequential information. Or, as Marshall Nirenberg, who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine, once said, "DNA makes RNA makes protein." And I think this simple explanation really just says it all. So let's explore this concept a little bit further. So we have three major players here. DNA and RNA are nucleic acids, which are made up of nucleotides, and proteins are made up of amino acids. And the information starts at the most basic level stored as DNA, which can then be re-stored as DNA when DNA copies itself in a process called "replication." Then DNA can be copied into RNA in a process called "transcription." And then finally you can use the information in RNA to synthesize a protein in a process called "translation." Now since DNA, RNA, and protein are linear polymers, this means that each individual unit, or monomer, is only attached to, at most, two other units. So say we have a monomer, which is just one unit. They are connected in a series like this, which makes it a linear polymer, and this is the same for DNA if each of these is a deoxyribonucleic acid, for RNA if it's a ribonucleic acid, or a protein, which are just amino acids all connected in a linear polymer. So what does this mean? This means that the specific sequence of each of these monomers effectively encodes information, and that that transfer of information is faithfully preserved from DNA to RNA to protein. Each polymer sequence is used as a template for the synthesis of the next polymer. And you could go into any step in this sequence and determine what the corresponding polymers would look like. So in other words, you could take DNA and obviously figure out what the corresponding RNA would look like, and then what the corresponding protein would look like. So this whole process is the central dogma. It can sometimes be a little bit tricky to keep all of these terms straight, so I'll try to break it down a little bit for how I like to remember them. For DNA, I think it's pretty easy. When you go from DNA, and DNA makes a copy of itself, it's called replication because DNA is just replicating itself. It's making the same copy of itself. Transcription and translation, on the other hand, it's kind of easy to get these two terms mixed up. One of them obviously is talking about DNA to RNA, whereas the other one is talking about going from RNA to protein. So if you look at the word transcription, it has the word "script" in it, so I think of it as going from one written form to another kind of written form, and both use nucleic acid, so they both use this sort of alphabet, if you will, of nucleic acids. And so you're just going from one kind of alphabet to the next kind of alphabet. Translation, on the other hand, which is also the same term that we use when translating one language to another, describes going from nucleic acid to amino acid, so it's like you're using one kind of language and going to another kind of language, because you're going from nucleic acid building blocks to amino acid building blocks. So hopefully that helps you keep these terms straight a little bit. So what did we learn about the central dogma? Just remember the simple statement that DNA makes RNA, which makes protein.