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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Fundamentals of Molecular Diagnostics. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Types of Nucleic Acid Synthesis

A gene is a hereditary unit or sequence of the nucleotide bases ACGT, occupying a fixed location or locus on the chromosome. It is these genes that carry all the information for life processes.
DNA is rewritten into 3 types of RNA, each with a specific task:
  • Messenger RNA (mRNA)carries the protein message to the cytoplasm.
  • Ribosomal RNA (rRNA) is the location of protein synthesis.
  • Transfer RNA (tRNA) is responsible for amino acid transport.
Each 3-base nucleotide sequence (codon) codes for a specific amino acid. Some amino acids have more than one codon to direct their placement. Think about the fact that there are only 20 different amino acids yet there are 64 possible codons. The phenomenon by which most amino acids are indicated by more than one codon is known as redundancy or degeneracy, and it is important to the genetic code since it minimizes the negative effects that incorrectly-placed nucleotides can have on protein synthesis.