By Stephen Nowicki

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The biochemical language of RNA is essentially the same as that of DNA, and RNA synthesis is similar in many respects to synthesis of new DNA. 36 ©2004 The Teaching Company Limited Partnership C. Information is not very useful in RNA; RNA’s main purpose is to pass genetic information to the process that builds proteins. D. RNA structure is similar to DNA structure, with three important differences. 1. The pentose sugar in RNA is called ribose and has a hydroxyl group in the second carbon position.

Why is tRNA appropriately referred to as a “translator,” and why is aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase appropriately referred to as a “matchmaker”? 2. A mutation occurring in a codon in mRNA may change a single amino acid in a single protein, whereas a mutation in the anticodon of a tRNA will have a profound effect on the amino acid sequence of all proteins that are being synthesized. Why should this be so? ©2004 The Teaching Company Limited Partnership 51 52 ©2004 The Teaching Company Limited Partnership Lecture Twelve When Mistakes Happen Scope: This lecture shifts the focus on DNA from its remarkable ability to be copied accurately to the inevitable mistakes that happen when copying occurs.

Transfer RNA (tRNA) are small, specialized segments of RNA that perform this function. B. The DNA code cannot be a simple substitution code because DNA has only 4 variable elements, while proteins have 20. This means that sequences of more than one nucleotide must code for single amino acids. III. How many nucleotide base “letters” are required to provide an adequate code for amino acid “words”? A. A two-letter code would yield 16 possible words (4 x 4 = 16), which is not enough to unambiguously code for 20 different amino acids; a fourletter code would yield 256 possible combinations (4 x 4 x 4 x 4 = 256), which is far more than needed.

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Biology - The Science of Life by Stephen Nowicki

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