DNA translation is the process that converts an mRNA sequence into a string of amino acids that form a protein. This fundamental process is responsible for creating the proteins that make up most cells. It also marks the final step in the journey from DNA sequence to a functional protein; the last piece of the central dogma to molecular biology.

Figure %: The Central Dogma

The previous SparkNote, The Genetic Code, discussed the way information is encoded in the nucleotides of DNA and, by extension through the process of transcription, in mRNA. In that discussion, the Genetic Code SparkNote explained how mRNA codes for specific amino acids, bringing those acids together to form the proteins essential for life processes. This SparkNote, Translation, will discuss the mechanism of protein production.

The SparkNote will begin by introducing transfer RNA (tRNA), the molecule that creates the link between the information held in the mRNA and the amino acids. Next, it will look at the ribosomes, the "factories" in which protein synthesis takes place. After that, we'll have the knowledge necessary to understand the actual process of protein synthesis.

Finally, we will look at the slight differences inherent in prokaryote and eukaryote translational processes.