By Stephen Nowicki
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Extra resources for Biology: The Science of Life
36 ©2004 The Teaching Company Limited Partnership C. Information is not very useful in RNA; RNA’s main purpose is to pass genetic information to the process that builds proteins. D. RNA structure is similar to DNA structure, with three important differences. 1. The pentose sugar in RNA is called ribose and has a hydroxyl group in the second carbon position. The pentose in DNA lacks this hydroxyl group and is therefore deoxyribonucleic acid. 2. In RNA, the base uracil (U) replaces the thymine (T) base found in DNA.
Watson and Crick suggested that the DNA double helix must “unzip,” and new complementary strands must form from the originals. A. Two alternatives to this model were proposed. 1. The conservative model suggested that the double helix remained intact and was used whole as a template for copies. 2. The dispersive model suggested that the original DNA molecule was completely broken down during replication and the new copy was created by some unknown mechanism. B. Based on what was known in the 1950s, both of these alternatives were completely likely, though they seem improbable now.
These stretches must be eliminated somehow in order to make a fully functional transcript for the protein. B. The average size of a transcription unit is about 8,000 nucleotides long. Once the noncoding nucleotides are removed, the average size of a transcript is about 1,200 nucleotides. This means that as much as 85% of the transcribed mRNA is cut out and not translated! C. The pieces of RNA that are cut out and thrown away are called introns, while the remaining pieces that are spliced together are called exons.
Biology: The Science of Life by Stephen Nowicki