We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is the Process of Protein Synthesis?

By M. Walker
Updated Feb 29, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The process of protein synthesis occurs in two major steps driven by enzymes inside a cell. First, deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is transcribed to ribonucleic acid (RNA) with the enzyme RNA polymerase. Second, the RNA is then translated into a protein molecule by ribosomes in the cell. Transcription of DNA and translation of RNA are the key steps in the central process of protein biosynthesis.

Transcription is the first step in the process, and it is usually initiated by various signaling molecules in the cell's nucleus. To begin, the enzyme DNA helicase unzips the two strands of DNA, exposing the template strand, which will code for the RNA that will be transcribed. Next, the enzyme RNA polymerase binds to the template strand, moving along it and synthesizing a strand of messenger RNA (mRNA) that is complementary to the template strand of DNA. Each single nucleotide of DNA will code for one nucleotide of RNA to be added to the mRNA strand.

In eukaryotic cells, the mRNA will usually be modified after it is made. This step in the process of protein synthesis involves adding a cap to the front, which is usually a methylated guanine nucleotide, and a poly-adenine tail (poly-A tail) to the back. The mRNA will also be spliced, because enzymes in the cell remove any mRNA segments that are not directly involved in coding for the target protein. These segments are known as introns, while the segments that are involved in coding for the protein are known as exons.

The next step in the process of protein synthesis is translation, in which the RNA codes for specific amino acids. This process is catalyzed outside of the nucleus by ribosomes, small organelles that are made of ribosomal RNA (rRNA) and protein. Ribosomes bind to both the mRNA strand and the amino acids that will make up the final protein. Every set of three mRNA nucleotides will code for one specific amino acid. The ribosomes travel down the mRNA strand, adding one amino acid at a time, until they reach the poly-A tail and complete the protein translation.

Sometimes the process of protein synthesis involves additional steps after the polypeptide has been created. Proteins can begin to fold into their native structure, or most stable three-dimensional conformation, with hydrophobic interactions. Since the cell is an aqueous, or water-based, environment, it is quite polar, and hydrophobic amino acids will gather together to avoid being exposed to this environment. This inward grouping of hydrophobic residues gives the protein more energetic stability, and helps it to fold.

Frequently, proteins cannot fold into their native structure of their own accord. In this case, they need the help of a chaperonin, a protein enzyme that binds to the newly synthesized polypeptide and folds it into the correct shape. Chaperonins and other enzymes can also repair denatured, misfolded, or other damaged proteins.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.