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In this module:

The Genetic Code
Transfer RNA

Transfer RNA

As mentioned earlier, the factory where proteins are manufactured is an organelle called a ribosome . A ribosome is a complicated combination of RNA and other proteins that carries out translation.

How is translation carried out? First, an amino acid is captured by a special kind of RNA molecule, a transfer RNA, or tRNA. A specific and different tRNA molecule exists in the cell for each of the 20 amino acids. The 20 tRNAs are roughly L-shaped molecules with two distinct and widely separated regions.

Click on the buttons below to see the regions indicated below in the structure of the phenylalanine tRNA at right.

An amino acid binding region. The amino acid is connected to the RNA molecule by an ester bond between the carboxyl group of the amino acid and the 2' or 3' hydroxyl group of the free 3' nucleotide of the tRNA.

An anticodon loop. This is a loop of three nucleotides complementary to a codon on mRNA. For example, since UUC in mRNA codes for phenylalanine, the tRNA that binds phenylalanine has a GAA anticodon loop.


Transfer RNA