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Difference Between Replication and Transcription

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Understanding Replication and Transcription

To understand the topic of the Difference Between Replication and Transcription, you need to understand the topic of transcription and replication first. Many times, students tend to get confused in the two processes, thus Vedantu has tried to bring this topic to you in the easiest way possible. To ensure this, the best subject matter experts of Vedantu were assigned. Let's start by understanding the topic of Replication first then followed by transcription.


DNA replication can be described as the process by which a double-stranded DNA molecule is copied to produce two identical DNA molecules. This is an essential process because, whenever a cell divides, the two new daughter cells must contain the same genetic information, or DNA, like the parent cell.

The basis of the replication process is the fact that each strand of DNA can serve as a template for duplication. The process initiates at specific points, called the origin of reapplication points, where the DNA double helix is unwound. A short segment of RNA, called a primer, is then synthesised and acts as a starting point for new DNA synthesis. The enzyme DNA polymerase next begins replicating the DNA by matching bases to the original strand. Once DNA synthesis is completed, the RNA primers are replaced with DNA. If there are any gaps between the newly synthesised DNA segments, they are sealed together with enzymes.

DNA replication is a crucial process; therefore, to ensure that mistakes, or mutations, are not introduced, the cell proofreads the newly synthesised DNA. Once the cellular DNA is replicated, the cell can divide into two daughter cells, which would have identical copies of the original DNA.



It is a process by which the genetic information contained within DNA is rewritten into a messenger RNA (mRNA) with the help of  RNA polymerase. This mRNA then exits the cell nucleus, where it provides the basis for the translation of DNA.

The Stages of Transcription

The process of transcription can be divided into 3 main stages:

  1. Initiation

  2. Elongation

  3. Termination 


The process is catalysed by the enzyme RNA polymerase. It attaches to DNA and moves along with it until it recognises a promoter sequence, which indicates the starting point of transcription. There may be many promoter sequences in a DNA molecule. Transcription factors are proteins that control the rate of transcription and also bind to the promoter sequences with RNA polymerase. 

Once bound to the promoter sequence, RNA polymerase unwinds a portion of the DNA double helix, exposing the bases on each of the two DNA strands.


One DNA strand known as the template strand is read in a 3′ to 5′ direction and so provides the template for the new mRNA molecule. The other DNA strand is termed the coding strand because the base sequence of the new mRNA is identical to it, except for the replacement of thiamine bases with uracil.

Incoming ribonucleotides are used by RNA polymerase to form the mRNA strand. It does this using complementary base pairing (A to U, T to A, C to G and G to C). RNA polymerase then catalyses the formation of phosphodiester bonds between adjacent ribonucleotides. Bases can only be added to the 3′ (three-prime) end, so the strand elongates in a 5’ to 3’ direction.


Elongation will continue until the RNA polymerase encounters a stop sequence. At this point, transcription terminates and the RNA polymerase releases the DNA template.

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In this article, we will learn both similarities and differences between replication and transcription.

Difference Between DNA Replication and Transcription

DNA replication and transcription are two complex biological processes and they have several differences between them. These differences between transcription and DNA replication are mentioned below:

Replication vs Transcription


DNA replication



It is the process of making new copies of DNA.

It is the process by which DNA is copied and transcribed to an RNA.


It is important for the regulation of the growth and division of cells.

It is the method of regulating gene expression.

Transfer of genetic information

The genetic information is transferred from DNA to DNA.

The genetic information transfers from DNA to RNA.

Occurs during

The S phase of the cell cycle.

Transcription takes place in the G1 and G2 phases of the cell cycle.


Takes place in preparation for cell division.

It takes place in preparation for protein translation.

Involved in 

The process is involved in cell division

The process is involved in gene expression.

Raw materials

The raw materials utilised are dATP, dGTP, dCTP and dTTP.

ATP, GTP, CTP and GTP are the raw materials in this process.


Both DNA strands act as templates.

A single DNA strand acts as a template.


The process requires an RNA primer to start replication.

No primers are needed to start this process.


The enzymes that are required are DNA polymerase, DNA helicase.

RNA polymerase, transcriptase.

Unwinding and splitting

It involves the unwinding and splitting of the DNA molecule.

Involves the unwinding and splitting of the genes that are to be transcribed.

Base pairing 

Adenine pairs with Thymine

Adenine pairs with Uracil

Copying of template

The complete template is copied.

Only a part of the DNA template that codes for required genes are transcribed or copied.


Two daughter molecules of DNA.

mRNA, rRNA, non-coding RNA and tRNA

Strands in product

Double-stranded DNA

Single-stranded RNA


Joining and Okazaki fragments.

RNA editing.


The DNA molecules that are produced are not needed for processing.

The primary RNA  transcript molecule needs processing to acquire the final form.


The new DNA molecules remain together by hydrogen bonds to the template DNA strand

THE transcribed RNA strand separates from its DNA template strand.

Rate of production

The rate of replication is typically 20 times faster than transcription and six or more replication forks may be present at the same time on the chromosome.

Comparatively slower.

Fun Facts About DNA:

  • DNA could be stretched from the earth to the sun and back approximately 600 times

  • Structure of a DNA molecule was discovered by Watson and Crick

  • Human genome carries 3 billion base pairs of DNA

  • Study of DNA can link you with people whom you had never imagined

  • DNA of all creatures are 99.99% alike


Thus we can understand how important the process of DNA replication and transcription is for the sustenance of life. Also, we understood how complicated the processes involved are and what all enzymes and chemicals are involved in the process.

This field of biology is an area where still groundbreaking research work is going on. It is an emerging field that holds a lot of significance in biotechnology and genetics, which has a wide range of applications in medical science and pharmaceutical.

At Vedantu we understand the importance of this topic, thus we have solutions to previous years biology papers for Class 12. This will help you in scoring good marks in Class 12 board exams.

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FAQs on Difference Between Replication and Transcription

1. What points of difference should be included in the Difference Between Replication and Transcription in biology?

There are around 20 points of difference in the Difference Between Replication and Transcription. These include characters such as definition, significance, genetic information transfer, time of occurrence, why they occur, motive involved, raw materials needed by the process, templates, enzymes, and a lot more. Vedantu has mentioned all of these for you above. Take your time and go through each one of them and understand what they mean. Prior to going through the table, go through the individual topics of DNA replication and DNA transcription.

2. What is replication in the Difference Between Replication and Transcription?

Before answering questions on the Difference Between Replication and Transcription it is important one understands the topic of DNA replication. In standard books, DNA replication is defined as a process in which double-stranded DNA is copied and two identical DNA molecules are produced. This ensures daughter DNA molecules contain the same genetic information as the parent DNA molecule. This process takes place during cell division. This process takes place in three steps - initiation, elongation and termination. Also, various enzymes are involved in the process - polymerase, helicase, primase, Ligase, etc.

3. What steps of transcription are discussed in the Difference Between Replication and Transcription?

In order to understand the Difference Between Replication and Transcription one needs to understand the process of transcription first. The process of transcription consists of three steps:

  1. Initiation: Unwinding of DNA molecules takes place here and the base pairs get exposed. Here enzyme polymerase is involved 

  2. Elongation: Here Ribonucleotides are added to the template strand and thereby the elongation of the RNA molecule starts taking place. 

  3. Termination: Here the process is terminated and the DNA template is released by the RNA polymerase. 

In these three steps, the process of transcriptions is concluded.

4. How do I answer the Difference Between Replication and Transcription in exams?

Answering questions related to the Difference Between Replication and Transcription completely depends on the type of questions and marks assigned to the question. If the question is asked for 2 or 3 marks you can draw a table and state 4 or 6 points of differences. If the question is asked for 5 marks then you need to list at least 10 points of differences along with corresponding diagrams. In all there are 20 points of difference, you need to remember the maximum. It is possible only if you study this topic thoroughly multiple times and get each and every point with utmost conceptual clarity.

5. Am I supposed to remember all points of difference in the Difference Between Replication and Transcription for the JIPMER exams?

All the questions in the JIPMER Biology exam are multiple-choice questions. Thus you need not remember the topic of the Difference Between Replication and Transcription word by word. But you need to know both the topics individually. And this has to be done with a lot of clarity because sometimes very minutely detailed questions are asked in the exam. You may go through the precious years JIPMER Biology question paper to understand the significance of this topic. We suggest instead of focusing on individual points of difference, focus on understanding the topics of replication and transcription separately.

6. What Are the Similarities Between Replication and Transcription?

Alongside differences, there are also some similarities between DNA replication and transcription. Both replication and transcription involve binding complementary nucleic acids to DNA, which yields a new strand of either DNA or RNA.

The processes can lead to errors if an incorrect nucleotide is incorporated. An error in either transcription or replication can cause a change in the gene. This occurs by either changing the DNA sequence in one of the daughter cells leading to transcription of the incorrect mRNA sequence or by causing the mRNA to incorporate an incorrect base pair that results in the wrong protein sequence being translated.

7. What Are the Steps of DNA Replication?

The four steps of DNA replication are:

1. Replication fork formation

2. Primer binding

3. Elongation

4. Termination

In eukaryotes, it takes place in the nucleus of the cell whilst in prokaryotes, it takes place in the cytoplasm of the cell.