The yellow molecule is messanger RNA (mRNA); it leaves the nucleus; at the ribosome, ribosomal RNA (rRNA) binds to mRNA; transfer RNA or tRNA (in green) can read the three letter code on mRNA or codon; each codon codes for one animo acid (red molecule attached to tRNA); the sequence of codons on the mRNA determines the sequence of amino acids in the protein, which in turn determines the structure and function of the protein.
Duration: 2 minutes, 4 seconds
Transcript: When the RNA copy is complete, it snakes out into the outer part of the cell. Then in a dazzling display of choreography, all the components of a molecular machine lock together around the RNA to form a miniature factory called a ribosome. It translates the genetic information in the RNA into a string of amino acids that will become a protein. Special transfer molecules — the green triangles — bring each amino acid to the ribosome. The amino acids are the small red tips attached to the transfer molecules. There are different transfer molecules for each of the twenty amino acids. Each transfer molecule carries a three letter code that is matched with the RNA in the machine. Now we come to the heart of the process. Inside the ribosome, the RNA is pulled through like a tape. The code for each amino acid is read off, three letters at a time, and matched to three corresponding letters on the transfer molecules. When the right transfer molecule plugs in, the amino acid it carries is added to the growing protein chain. Again, you are watching this in real time. And after a few seconds the assembled protein starts to emerge from the ribosome. Ribosomes can make any kind of protein. It just depends what genetic message you feed in on the RNA. In this case, the end product is hemoglobin. The cells in our bone marrow churn out a hundred trillion molecules of it per second! And as a result, our muscles, brain and all the vital organs in our body receive the oxygen they need.