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Interactives -- DNA

Genetic Engineering : Translation

Translation is the process to describe how proteins are made. Before we explain that in depth, you need to have some background about proteins. Unlike DNA and RNA, proteins are built from molecules called amino acids. All amino acids have the same basic structure, with an amino group containing nitrogen, a carboxyl group, and a side chain. The side chain determines the structure of the amino acid, and it can vary in complexity. For the simplest amino acid, glycine, the side chain is hydrogen.

The particular order of amino acids on the chain determines the identity of the protein. The actual three-dimensional shape of the protein and its function is determined by the amino acid side groups, which interact with each other in various ways. For example, ball-like proteins, such as the hemoglobin proteins in red blood cells, are good for transporting molecules such as oxygen, while long, thread-like proteins, such as collagen, provide structural support in tissues. Enzymes, proteins that speed up the chemical reactions among other molecules, are folded into a structure that has an "active site," a location where other molecules can be put in close enough contact with each other to chemically react.


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