What are codons and anticodons?


Quick Answer

In the production of proteins, codons refer to the three-base segments in messenger ribonucleic acid or mRNA, while anticodons are the three-base segments in transfer RNA or tRNA. The ribosomes, which are the structural sites for protein synthesis, direct the base pairing of the anticodons in tRNA with the codons in mRNA. The codons function by identifying the particular amino acids to be used for protein synthesis, and the anticodons are responsible for the proper placement of the correct amino acid on the ribosomes.

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Full Answer

The first step in protein synthesis is transcription, where mRNA is produced from DNA using the nucleobases A, C, G and U, instead of the T in a DNA strand. The three-base segments in DNA, known as "triplets," are transcribed into mRNA codons, which contain the information on which amino acids are to be used to synthesize proteins. The are 61 out of the 64 codons in mRNA that code for specific amino acids. The tRNA contains complementary anticodons that bind with the codons, which enable the tRNA to transport the correct amino acids to the ribosomes. The codon AAA, with its complementary anticodon UUU, code for the amino acid, lysine.

The ribosomes interpret the information found on the mRNA codon, and the tRNA helps in aligning the appropriate amino acids to build a complex protein, known as a polypeptide. The synthesis of a particular protein is only terminated when the ribosomes encounter a stop codon, which signals an end to the translation process.

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