What is the role of trna in protein synthesis?

What is the role of trna in protein synthesis?


The role of tRNA (transfer RNA) in protein synthesis is crucial for the accurate translation of the genetic code from DNA to proteins. tRNA acts as an intermediary molecule that carries specific amino acids to the ribosomes, where they are joined together to form proteins. This process, known as translation, is essential for the functioning of cells and the synthesis of proteins that carry out various biological functions.

tRNA Structure

tRNA molecules are relatively small, single-stranded RNA molecules that fold into a characteristic cloverleaf shape. Each tRNA molecule consists of about 70-90 nucleotides and has a specific sequence of three nucleotides called an anticodon, which is complementary to the codon on the mRNA (messenger RNA). The anticodon allows tRNA to recognize and bind to the corresponding codon during translation.

The structure of tRNA also includes several important regions. The acceptor stem is at one end of the molecule and binds to the specific amino acid corresponding to the tRNA. The anticodon loop contains the anticodon sequence that recognizes the codon on the mRNA. The TψC loop contains a modified nucleotide called pseudouridine (Ψ) and is involved in the accurate recognition of codons. Finally, the D loop and the variable loop are regions that contribute to the stability and recognition of tRNA by various enzymes and proteins involved in protein synthesis.

tRNA Charging

Before tRNA can participate in protein synthesis, it needs to be “charged” with the appropriate amino acid. This process is carried out by a group of enzymes called aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases. Each aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase is specific to a particular amino acid and recognizes both the amino acid and the corresponding tRNA molecule.

The charging of tRNA occurs in two steps. First, the amino acid is activated by attaching it to adenosine triphosphate (ATP), forming an aminoacyl-AMP intermediate. Then, the activated amino acid is transferred to the tRNA molecule, resulting in the formation of aminoacyl-tRNA. This charged tRNA is now ready to participate in protein synthesis.

tRNA in Protein Synthesis

During protein synthesis, tRNA plays a crucial role in decoding the genetic information encoded in the mRNA. The ribosome, the molecular machinery responsible for protein synthesis, consists of two subunits: the small subunit and the large subunit. The small subunit binds to the mRNA, while the large subunit catalyzes the formation of peptide bonds between amino acids.

The process begins with the binding of the initiator tRNA to the start codon on the mRNA. The anticodon of the initiator tRNA recognizes the start codon (usually AUG) and brings the corresponding amino acid (methionine in most cases) to the ribosome.

As the ribosome moves along the mRNA, it encounters successive codons, and tRNA molecules with complementary anticodons bind to these codons. Each tRNA carries a specific amino acid, which is added to the growing polypeptide chain. The ribosome catalyzes the formation of peptide bonds between the amino acids, resulting in the elongation of the polypeptide chain.

This process continues until a stop codon is encountered on the mRNA. At this point, the ribosome releases the completed polypeptide chain, and the protein synthesis is complete.


tRNA plays a vital role in protein synthesis by carrying specific amino acids to the ribosome and ensuring the accurate translation of the genetic code. Its unique structure and charging process enable it to recognize and bind to the appropriate codons on the mRNA, facilitating the synthesis of proteins essential for cellular functions.


– Alberts, B., Johnson, A., Lewis, J., Raff, M., Roberts, K., & Walter, P. (2002). Molecular Biology of the Cell (4th ed.). Garland Science.
– Lodish, H., Berk, A., Zipursky, S. L., Matsudaira, P., Baltimore, D., & Darnell, J. (2000). Molecular Cell Biology (4th ed.). W. H. Freeman and Company.