DNA Transcription (RNA Synthesis): Articles, Diagrams and Video (2023)

Proe.g. B. Continued

DNA transcription, also known as RNA synthesis, is the process by which the genetic information contained in DNA is transcribed into messenger RNA (mRNA) by an RNA polymerase enzyme.

  • The synthesized mRNA is transported out of the nucleus, where it later aids in protein synthesis via the translation mechanism.
  • Regulation of mRNA production In the cell nucleus, the cell automatically regulates the rate of gene expression.
  • The transcription process is assisted by the enzyme RNA polymerase, which copies the correct sequences in the DNA template to produce a complementary RNA copy of the gene.
  • The basic mechanism of transcription is the same in both eukaryotes and prokaryotes, but may differ between them in various aspects.

table of contents

DNA transcription enzymes and function

The main enzyme used in the transcription of DNA isRNA-Polymerase. One type of RNA polymerase enzyme is used in prokaryotes while three types of RNA polymerases are used in eukaryotes, ie RNA polymerase I, II and III.

(Video) Transcription (DNA to mRNA)

DNA Transcription (RNA Synthesis): Articles, Diagrams and Video (1)

Figure: RNA polymerase. Image source:Akademie Khan.

The main functions of RNA polymerase include:

  1. Formation of the initiator complex that helps in the unwinding process of the double helix structure of DNA.
  2. Synthesis and elongation of RNA transcription by addition of nucleotide bases, adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G) and uracil (U).
  3. It forms termination sequences that stop and end transcription.

Learn more:RNA polymerase: definition, types and functions

DNA transcription steps

Summary: transcription steps

DNA Transcription (RNA Synthesis): Articles, Diagrams and Video (2)
  • 50 different proteinsThe transcription factorwill joinDistrict AttorneyPlaces on the 5' side of the gene to be transcribed.
  • The RNA polymerase binds to the transcription factor complex, allowing the DNA double helix to open.
  • The RNA polymerase then reads a strand at 3' to 5'; Direction
  • In eukaryotic cells, the nucleosome promotes RNA polymerase (Pol II) for protein-coding genes.
  • The complex of RNA polymerase and transcription factors replaces the nucleosome after the DNA has been transcribed and Pol II has progressed.
  • As RNA polymerase moves along the strand of DNA, it assembles ribonucleotides into a strand of RNA using triphosphate (ATP).
  • Each ribonucleotide is inserted into the growing RNA strand by base pairing, i. H. each cytosine (C) is linked to a guanine (G) while a uracil (U) is linked to an adenine (A).
  • RNA synthesis occurs in the 5'-3' direction.
  • As each nucleoside triphosphate is added to the 3' end of the growing chain, the two terminal phosphates are removed.
  • When transcription is complete, the transcript is released from the polymerase and the polymerase enzyme is also released from the DNA.

DNA transcription process

  • In prokaryotic cells, the entire mechanism of transcription is summarized in three stages: initiation, elongation, and termination.
  • At the end of termination in prokaryotes, the mRNA formed is ready for translation.
  • Unlike in eukaryotes, an immature mRNA is formed after termination and hence further processes are required to form a mature mRNA which is then translated into proteins.
  • In general, the transcription process transcribes DNA into mRNA, the type of RNA that carries the information needed for protein synthesis.
  • In eukaryotes there are two main steps that take place in transcription;
  1. Formation of pre-messenger RNA using an RNA polymerase enzyme
  2. Editing of pre-messenger RNA by splicing
  • The formation of pre-messenger RNA includes the initiation, elongation, and termination phases that ultimately lead to the formation of mRNA.
  • The mRNA then goes through various steps of splicing to form mature mRNA.

Formation of pre-messenger RNA

DNA Transcription (RNA Synthesis): Articles, Diagrams and Video (3)

Figure: Initiation of DNA transcription. Image source:Akademie Khan.

  • When transcription begins, the DNA must be unwound with the help of RNA polymerase, which catalyzes the process.
  • During transcription, only one strand of DNA is transcribed, the strand containing the initiator sequence. this strand is known as the sense strand, while the complementary strand is known as the antisense strand.
  • The mRNA transcribed is usually a copy of the sense strand, but the antisense strand is transcribed.
  • Ribonucleoside triphosphate (NTP) aligns along the antisense DNA strand through base pairing, then RNA polymerase ligates the ribonucleotides, forming a pre-messenger RNA molecule that is complementary to a region on the antisense strand.
  • Transcription is complete when the RNA polymerase enzyme encounters a triplet of bases, which is read as a stop signal. At this stage, the DNA molecule is rewound to reform the double helix.
  • Messenger RNA (mRNA) formation occurs in three stages: initiation, elongation, and termination.


Promoter and initiation in prokaryotes

DNA Transcription (RNA Synthesis): Articles, Diagrams and Video (4)

Figure: Promoter and initiation in prokaryotes. Image source:Akademie Khan.

  • The start of transcription signals in a region known as the promoter.
  • The promoter is the site for RNA polymerase to bind, so the promoter directs the polymerase to where it needs to settle on the DNA to initiate transcription.
  • RNA polymerase is the enzyme that catalyzes the mechanism of transcription.
  • The RNA polymerase enzyme has a sigma factor (σ), which is the dissociative unit that allows the enzyme to recognize the promoter sequence (transcription start point), which lies between the -35 and -10 regions.
  • The promoter sequence is recognized by the RNA polymerase holoenzyme subunit as it binds to and moves along the DNA template molecule. This forms aclosed developer complex.
  • A single DNA molecule can have multiple promoter sequences or gated promoter complexes.
  • The promoter, which binds the transcription factors, forms a complex with the RNA polymerase.
  • Transcription factors are regulatory proteins that control the rate of transcription.
  • When RNA polymerase binds to the promoter sequence, it locally denatures the DNA duplex and forms an open promoter complex, which becomes the unwrapped portion of the double-stranded DNA, exposing the bases on each of the two DNA strands.

Promoter and initiation in eukaryotes

DNA Transcription (RNA Synthesis): Articles, Diagrams and Video (5)

Figure: Promoter and initiation in eukaryotes. Image source:Akademie Khan.

(Video) Protein Synthesis (Updated)

  • In eukaryotes, RNA polymerase does not bind directly to the promoter sequence as it does in prokaryotes.
  • An auxiliary promoter known as the basal (common) transcription factor binds to the promoter first and helps RNA polymerase bind to the DNA template.
  • Eukaryotes have a promoter sequence calledPapa-Box,which is recognized by transcription factors that eventually allow RNA polymerase to bind.
  • The TATA box has many A's and T's, making it easy to separate the DNA strands.


DNA Transcription (RNA Synthesis): Articles, Diagrams and Video (6)

Figure: Elongation of DNA transcription. Image source:Akademie Khan.

  • After transcription begins, the sigma factor (σ) dissociates from the RNA polymerase.
  • The template strand is read in the 3' to 5' direction, meaning that RNA synthesis occurs in the 5' to 3' direction, with nucleoside triphosphate (NTP) acting as a substrate for the enzyme.
  • The other strand of the DNA template is called the coding strand because the base sequence of the new mRNA is identical except for the replacement of the thiamine with the uracil base.
  • RNA polymerase catalyzes the formation of a phosphodiester bond between adjacent ribonucleotides.
  • The energy used by RNA polymerase comes from the cleavage of the high-energy triphosphate into monophosphate, releasing the inorganic diphosphates (PPi).
  • A transcription bubble is formed and must be maintained since transcription occurs on the double-stranded DNA template. The bubble moves along the DNA duplex during elongation.
  • Stops or pauses are common, which are then essential for the transcription to complete.


  • This is the process of transcription termination that occurs when signaled by a stop sequence known as a terminator sequence.
  • This happens when RNA polymerase transcribes the terminator sequence.
  • The RNA polymerase then releases the DNA temple, which uncoils back into a double helix structure.

termination in bacteria

There are two methods of termination in bacteria.

Rho dependent ending

DNA Transcription (RNA Synthesis): Articles, Diagrams and Video (7)

Figure: Rho dependent termination. Image source:Akademie Khan.

This is the termination process where the RNA molecule contains a binding site for a protein known as Rho factor, which binds to the DNA sequence. It starts moving the transcript up to the RNA polymerase and reaches the transcription bubble. In the bladder, the Rho factor separates the RNA transcript and the DNA template, releasing the RNA molecule and terminating the transcription process. A transcription stoppoint sequence found further down the DNA causes RNA polymerase to stop, allowing Rho factor to catch up and finish the process.

Independent termination of Rho

DNA Transcription (RNA Synthesis): Articles, Diagrams and Video (8)

Figure: Independent termination of Rho. Image source:Akademie Khan.

This process depends on a specific sequence found on the DNA template. During transcription, as RNA polymerase approaches the endpoint of the gene to be transcribed, it reaches a region rich in cytosine (C) and guanine (G). RNA transcribed from this region folds on itself and complementary C and G bind together to form a stable hairpin that causes RNA polymerase to arrest. The hairpin is followed by a uracil (U) at the RNA terminator, which complements the DNA template by adenine (A). The U-A region forms a weak interaction with the DNA template and causes instability with the blocked RNA polymerase, allowing the enzyme to break down and terminate new RNA transcription.

(Video) Transcription and Translation: From DNA to Protein

Video Lecture: DNA Transcription and mRNA Processing (Khan Academy Video)

Pre-translational mRNA processing

  • In eukaryotes, mRNA that has been transcribed is called pre-mRNA and therefore must undergo other processes in order for it to mature into mature mRNA.
  • These are known as pre-translational mRNA processes. They include:

5 'Cloak

  • This is the addition of the methylated guanine cap to the 5' end of the mRNA
  • The 5' cap helps in the recognition of the mRNA molecule by ribosomes and also protects the immature mRNA from degradation by RNases.


  • This is the addition of a poly(A) tail to the 3' end of the mRNA. The poly(A) tail consists of several molecules of adenosine monophosphate, which stabilizes the RNA due to its natural instability.


  • This is the coding of a genetic sequence for different proteins, thereby conserving the genetic material.
  • The process includes:
    • Removal of non-coding sequences known as introns by spliceosome excision.
    • Joining coding sequences known as exons by ligation.
    • Splicing is sequence dependent and therefore takes place within the transcript.
    • This allowslots of proteinconsist of a single pre-mRNA
  • At the end of the splicing process, mature mRNA will have been produced.
  • The mature mRNA then becomes the messenger transporter that enables protein synthesis.
  • Mature mRNA has open reading frames (ORFs), a region that is translated into proteins. Translation into ORFs occurs in three blocks of three nucleotides known as codons.
  • At the bottom of the 5' and 3' ends are untranslated regions (UTRs) that are not translated during protein synthesis.

DNA transcription in eukaryotes (difference to prokaryotes)

Transcription in eukaryotes and prokaryotes shows some similarities and differences.


Some of the common similarities include;

  • DNA is used as a template in both organisms.
  • RNA polymerase is the main enzyme that facilitates the whole mechanism in both organisms.
  • The RNA molecule is the end product in both organisms.
  • The chemical composition of the transcript is the same in both organisms.


The main differences in transcription between eukaryotes and prokaryotes include:

District Attorney:

  • Prokaryotes have three promoter elements, viz. H. -10-, -35 promoters and upstream elements
  • Eukaryotes have many different promoter elements, ie the TATA box, the initiator elements, the core downstream promoter, the CAAT box and the CG box.


  • Prokaryotes have a type of RNA polymerase that helps synthesize the strand of RNA.
  • Eukaryotes have three types of RNA polymerases I, II and III that help in the synthesis of the RNA strand.


(Video) Transcription Made Easy- From DNA to RNA (2019)

  • The eukaryotic initiation complex consists of multiple transcription factors that dissociate at the end of the initiation process.
  • While prokaryotes do not form a starter complex

Simultaneous transcription and translation

  • Another important difference is that in prokaryotes, transcription and translation occur simultaneously, while in eukaryotes, transcription must be completed before the translation mechanism begins.
  • RNA in eukaryotes undergoes post-transcriptional modifications such as capping, polyadenylation, and splicing to form mature mRNA, which proceeds to translation. These processes do not occur in prokaryotes.


  • The mRNA in prokaryotes has many different genes in the single mRNA, hence they are called polycistronic.
  • Eukaryotes only have one gene in one mRNA molecule, which is why they are called monocistronic.


  • Termination in prokaryotes is assisted by Rho-dependent or Rho-independent factors, whereas in eukaryotes transcription is terminated by the polyadenylated (A) signal and downstream terminator sequence.

Also read:

  • Plant cell: definition, structure, parts, functions, labeled diagram
  • 7 types of RNA with structure and functions
  • Transcription vs. Translation - Definition, 15 Differences, Examples
  • DNA Replication: Definition, Enzymes, Steps, Mechanism, Diagram
  • Animal cell: definition, structure, parts, functions, labeled diagram

reverse transcription

  • This is the conversion of RNA into DNA, with the RNA acting as a template in the synthesis of a type of DNA known as complementary DNA (cDNA).
  • The central dogma defines the mechanisms involving DNA synthesis (replication), RNA synthesis (transcription), protein synthesis (translation) and cDNA synthesis (reverse transcription). Thus, DNA encodes RNA, RNA encodes proteins, and RNA can also encode DNA in the case of reverse transcription.
  • RNA-encoded viruses undergo the mechanism of reverse transcription, in which their genomic RNA is converted into DNA with the help of the enzyme reverse transcriptase.
  • Reverse transcription is also known as retrotranscription or retrotras. It is a highly flawed process that can lead to mutations that can cause drug resistance.
  • RNA to DNA conversion is usually preferably applied in laboratory mainly as diagnostic tool for most RNA virus like HIV, hepatitis, influenza, coronavirus etc.

Transcription inhibitors

Transcription inhibitors are elements used to inhibit the action and mechanism of the RNA polymerase enzyme that hinders the transcription process. Transcription inhibitors are mainly used to inhibit bacterial transcription mechanisms in pathogens. Some of the most commonly used inhibitors include

(Video) Transcription and Translation - Protein Synthesis From DNA - Biology

  • α-Amanitin: This is an inhibitor extracted from yeast that is selective for RNA polymerase II and RNA polymerase III.
  • Rifampicin inhibits bacterial transcription by inhibiting DNA-dependent RNA polymerase by binding to the beta subunit.
  • 8-Hydroxyquinoline is also an antifungal transcription inhibitor.
  • Others include actinomycin D, CDK9 inhibitors like DRB and flavopiridol, triptolide.
  • One inhibitory mechanism is histone methylation, which blocks transcriptional action.

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How is DNA and RNA synthesized? ›

RNA is synthesized from DNA by an enzyme known as RNA polymerase during a process called transcription. The new RNA sequences are complementary to their DNA template, rather than being identical copies of the template. RNA is then translated into proteins by structures called ribosomes.

What are the 4 steps of DNA transcription? ›

The major steps of transcription are initiation, promoter clearance, elongation, and termination.

What is DNA and RNA transcription and translation? ›

The Central Dogma of Molecular Biology states that DNA makes RNA makes proteins (Figure 1). The process by which DNA is copied to RNA is called transcription, and that by which RNA is used to produce proteins is called translation.

What are the 3 types of transcription? ›

The types of transcription are mainly categorized into three types – verbatim, edited and intelligent transcription. All these transcriptions can be used for audio or video files only the process could be different, depending upon the requirements and resource availability.

What are the 5 transcription factors? ›

The most common GTFs are TFIIA, TFIIB, TFIID (see also TATA binding protein), TFIIE, TFIIF, and TFIIH. The preinitiation complex binds to promoter regions of DNA upstream to the gene that they regulate.

What is the process of DNA synthesis? ›

DNA biosynthesis occurs when a cell divides, in a process called replication. It involves separation of the DNA double helix and subsequent synthesis of complementary DNA strand, using the parent DNA chain as a template.

How do we synthesize DNA? ›

In nature, DNA molecules are synthesised by all living cells through the process of DNA replication. This typically occurs as a part of cell division. DNA replication occurs so, during cell division, each daughter cell contains an accurate copy of the genetic material of the cell.

What is the difference of DNA synthesis and RNA synthesis? ›

DNA synthesis is the process of synthesizing a double stranded DNA through semi-conservative replication by using enzymes. RNA synthesis is the process of synthesizing an RNA through the process of transcription using an enzyme-mediated method.

What is DNA and RNA explain briefly? ›

DNA is a double-stranded molecule that has a long chain of nucleotides. RNA is a single-stranded molecule which has a shorter chain of nucleotides. Propagation. DNA replicates on its own, it is self-replicating. RNA does not replicate on its own.

What is the process of DNA replication transcription and translation? ›

DNA polymerase links nucleotides together to form a new strand, using the pre-existing strand as a template. Transcription is the synthesis of mRNA copied from the DNA base sequences by RNA polymerase. Translation is the synthesis of polypeptides on ribosomes.

What happens in transcription? ›

Transcription is the process in which a gene's DNA sequence is copied (transcribed) to make an RNA molecule. RNA polymerase is the main transcription enzyme. Transcription begins when RNA polymerase binds to a promoter sequence near the beginning of a gene (directly or through helper proteins).

What are the 5 steps of DNA replication in order? ›

The complete process of DNA Replication involves the following steps:
  • Recognition of initiation point. ...
  • Unwinding of DNA – ...
  • Template DNA – ...
  • RNA Primer – ...
  • Chain Elongation – ...
  • Replication forks – ...
  • Proof reading – ...
  • Removal of RNA primer and completion of DNA strand –

What are the 3 DNA processes? ›

How is DNA replicated? Replication occurs in three major steps: the opening of the double helix and separation of the DNA strands, the priming of the template strand, and the assembly of the new DNA segment.

What are the 4 steps of RNA processing? ›

The Three Steps of RNA Processing
  • Capping. This is the first processing event an mRNA undergoes before translation. ...
  • Tailing. ...
  • Splicing. ...
  • What is the Need for Post-Transcriptional Modification?

What is the main process of transcription? ›

Transcription is the process by which the information in a strand of DNA is copied into a new molecule of messenger RNA (mRNA). DNA safely and stably stores genetic material in the nuclei of cells as a reference, or template.

What are the 2 types of transcription? ›

Phonetic and orthographic transcription

There are two main types of linguistic transcription.

What are the 4 transcription factors? ›

The transcription factors Oct4, Sox2, Klf4 and Nanog act as triggers for the induction of somatic cells to pluripotent stem cells. Oct4, Sox2, Klf4 and Nanog are all essential in stem cells and play an important role in biological processes.

What controls transcription? ›

First, transcription is controlled by limiting the amount of mRNA that is produced from a particular gene. The second level of control is through post-transcriptional events that regulate the translation of mRNA into proteins. Even after a protein is made, post-translational modifications can affect its activity.

Where does transcription occur? ›

During transcription, a piece of DNA that codes for a specific gene is copied into messenger RNA (mRNA) in the nucleus of the cell. The mRNA then carries the genetic information from the DNA to the cytoplasm, where translation occurs.

What are the 3 parts of a transcription unit? ›

A transcription unit is a segment of DNA that takes part in transcription. It has three components - (i) a promoter (ii) a structural gene and (iii) a terminator.

Where does RNA synthesis occur? ›

Answer and Explanation: In eukaryotic cells, RNA synthesis occurs in the nucleus. RNA is synthesized by RNA polymerases. RNA transcripts are exported from the nucleus after they are synthesized and processed.

Why does DNA synthesis occur? ›

Cells must replicate their DNA before they can divide. This ensures that each daughter cell gets a copy of the genome, and therefore, successful inheritance of genetic traits.

What happens during RNA synthesis? ›

RNA is synthesized on a DNA template by a process of DNA transcription in which RNA polymerase enzymes make an RNA copy of a DNA sequence. RNA polymerases are formed from multiple polypeptide chains with a molecular weight of 500,000. In eukaryotic cells there are three different types of RNA polymerases.

What is the process of RNA synthesis called? ›

The process of synthesizing RNA from the genetic information encoded by DNA is called transcription. The enzymes involved in transcription are called RNA polymerases.

What is synthesis of DNA from RNA called? ›

The correct option is D all of these. The central dogma of molecular biology states that the information flows from DNA to mRNA and then to protein. Synthesis of mRNA from DNA is called transcription.

What are the steps of transcription in order? ›

Transcription has three stages: initiation, elongation, and termination.

What are the 6 steps of translation? ›

The translation process in 6 steps
  • Analysis of the text. ...
  • Research and translation. ...
  • Comparison between original and translation. ...
  • Proofreading. ...
  • Review by another professional. ...
  • DTP: Desktop Publishing or Formatting.
Oct 23, 2020

What is the basic process of transcription? ›

Transcription is the process in which a gene's DNA sequence is copied (transcribed) to make an RNA molecule. RNA polymerase is the main transcription enzyme. Transcription begins when RNA polymerase binds to a promoter sequence near the beginning of a gene (directly or through helper proteins).

What is the correct order of translation and transcription? ›

This is a two-step process. The first step is transcription in which the sequence of one gene is replicated in an RNA molecule. The second step is translation in which the RNA molecule serves as a code for the formation of an amino-acid chain (a polypeptide).

What are the steps of DNA replication? ›

Replication occurs in three major steps: the opening of the double helix and separation of the DNA strands, the priming of the template strand, and the assembly of the new DNA segment. During separation, the two strands of the DNA double helix uncoil at a specific location called the origin.

What are the 4 types of translation? ›

Types of Translation and Interpretation

financial translation and interpretation. legal translation and interpretation. literary translation. medical translation and interpretation.

What are the 5 types of translation? ›

What are the 5 Most Common Types of Translation?
  • Literary Translation. As the name suggests, literary translation is the act of translating literary works, such as plays, novels and poems. ...
  • Technical Translation. ...
  • Administrative Translation. ...
  • Financial Translation. ...
  • Legal Translation. ...
  • Other types of translation.
Nov 16, 2021

What are the 3 types of RNA and what are their functions? ›

The three major types of RNA are:
  • mRNA (messenger RNA): it provides the template for protein synthesis during translation.
  • tRNA (transfer RNA): it brings amino acids and reads the genetic code during translation.
  • rRNA (ribosomal RNA): it plays a structural and catalytic role during translation.

Why does transcription occur? ›

Transcription occurs when there is a need for a particular gene product at a specific time or in a specific tissue. During transcription, only one strand of DNA is usually copied. This is called the template strand, and the RNA molecules produced are single-stranded messenger RNAs (mRNAs).

What are the steps of RNA synthesis? ›

There are three phases of transcription: initiation, elongation and termination. It is easier to understand the process by first examining elongation then initiation and termination.

What are the three important events in the process of transcription? ›

Transcription takes place in three steps: initiation, elongation, and termination.

What happens during transcription *? ›

To summarise: Transcription converts DNA into mRNA inside the nucleus. Translation converts mRNA into a polypeptide sequence on ribosomes.

What best describes transcription? ›


Transcription, as related to genomics, is the process of making an RNA copy of a gene's DNA sequence. This copy, called messenger RNA (mRNA), carries the gene's protein information encoded in DNA.

Where does DNA transcription occur? ›

The process of Transcription takes place in the cytoplasm in prokaryotes and in nucleus in eukaryotes. It uses DNA as a template to make an RNA (mRNA) molecule. During transcription, a strand of mRNA is made that is complementary to a strand of DNA .


1. DNA vs RNA (Updated)
(Amoeba Sisters)
2. cDNA Synthesis Protocol by Reverse Transcription
(Henrik's Lab)
3. DNA Replication (Updated)
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4. DNA Translation Made Easy
5. Transcription factors and their classification - free webseminar from the initiator of TFClass
6. 8. Transcription
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