What do genes do?
What do genes do?

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

What do genes do?

3 The flow of information from DNA to RNA to protein

The information flow from DNA to protein is more complex than shown in Figure 1. The genetic information encoded within the DNA of a gene is carried via an intermediary molecule, RNA (ribonucleic acid). Information within a cell can therefore be seen as passing from DNA, via RNA, to a protein. This flow of information can be expressed in another way.

DNA makes RNA makes protein.

This statement implies that there are two separate steps in this information flow: from DNA to RNA and from RNA to protein; these are called, respectively, transcription and translation. Transcription of DNA produces RNA and the subsequent translation of this RNA produces proteins. These steps are summarized in Figure 2 (also click on the link to the video clip below).

Figure 2
Figure 2 Information flow from DNA to RNA to protein.

Video: Click to view clip from DNA to RNA to protein

Download this video clip.Video player: sk195_3_002v.mp4
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).
SK195_3

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371