Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne RNA After Translation
Name: Barbara
Status: Educator
Age: 50s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
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

Click here to return to the Molecular Biology Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory