RNA After Translation
Date: April 2004
What happens to mRNA after translation?
mRNA is a temporary copy of the "recipe" for making a gene product. Suppose you are Mrs.
Field's of cookie making fame. You have the chocolate chip cookie recipe in the vault at
the bank. Every time you want to make a batch, you have to go to the vault and copy it,
but you only want it to be a temporary copy. As soon as you are done making a batch, it
is destroyed. So the cell's nucleus is kind of like the vault, and the mRNA is kind of
like the temporary copy. It can be copied many times by ribosomes simultaneously, but
it breaks down in the cytoplasm quickly and needs to be made over and over.
It can be (and almost certainly is) translated more than once, with additional ribosomes
loading onto it. At some point, enzymes in the cell will break the RNA down.
Paul Mahoney, PhD
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Update: June 2012