Understanding Evolution

Research Profiles : From the origin of life to the future of biotech :

Introducing the molecules

To understand how the origin of life relates to biosensors, you need to understand a little about the chemistry of the origin of life. Today, virtually all organisms use DNA to encode genetic information, and proteins to carry out the day-to-day operations of the cell. The molecule that carries information from DNA and allows it to be decoded into a protein is called RNA.
  • DNA is a long, double-stranded molecule twisted into a helix. It is composed of a chemical code (represented by the letters A, T, G, and C) that describes how to make proteins.

    DNA

  • RNA is similar to DNA, but it is shorter and single-stranded. RNA can carry an "imprint" of DNA information and take it to the place in the cell where proteins are built.

    RNA

  • Proteins are long chain-like molecules that fold into complicated shapes and perform all sorts of jobs in the cell — from providing raw building materials to running chemical reactions. They are the workhorses of the cell — and, hence, of the organism.

    protein

    DNA are transmitted via RNA to construct proteins

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View this article online at:
http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/ellington_02

Understanding Evolution © 2015 by The University of California Museum of Paleontology, Berkeley, and the Regents of the University of California