What are the differences and similarities between mRNA and tRNA?  

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Below are several characteristics of messenger RNA (mRNA) and transfer RNA (tRNA). The characteristics that are highlighted in “italics” are the same for both mRNA and tRNA.

Messenger RNA (mRNA):

  • Composed of single-stranded ribonucleic acid (RNA)
  • Uses the bases adenine (A), uracil (U), guanine (G), and cytosine (C)
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Below are several characteristics of messenger RNA (mRNA) and transfer RNA (tRNA). The characteristics that are highlighted in “italics” are the same for both mRNA and tRNA.

Messenger RNA (mRNA):

  • Composed of single-stranded ribonucleic acid (RNA)
  • Uses the bases adenine (A), uracil (U), guanine (G), and cytosine (C)
  • Copied from DNA in the nucleus during a process called transcription
  • Has a simple linear strand structure
  • Each sequence of three base pairs is called a codon - codons are complementary to sequences in tRNA called anticodons
  • Sent out of the nucleus into the cytoplasm to be used during protein synthesis.
  • Interacts with the ribosome during protein synthesis
  • Is broken down after protein synthesis

Transfer RNA (tRNA):

  • Composed of single-stranded ribonucleic acid (RNA)
  • Uses the bases adenine (A), uracil (U), guanine (G), and cytosine (C)
  • Folds into a “clover-shaped” structure
  • Contains a sequence of three base pairs called an anticodon –anticodons are complementary to sequences in mRNA called codons. Each anticodon sequence corresponds to a particular amino acid
  • Participates in protein synthesis in the cytoplasm – the process of protein synthesis is called translation
  • Interacts with the ribosome during protein synthesis
  • Each tRNA carries a particular amino acid – once the amino acid has been removed during protein synthesis, the tRNA molecule is reactivated by the attachment of another copy of the amino acid

 

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