Translation in Biology - Meaning, Stages, and FAQs

What is Translation in Biology?

To understand what is Translation in Biology, it is important to know the basis of its requirement. Now, it is quite well-known that the basic unit of a living Organism is a Cell. In the same manner, it is also clearly understood that the molecular basis that forms the fundamental unit of all living Organisms is most widely the Deoxyribo-Nucleic Acid - DNA. DNA contains almost all the information required for an Organism to carry out all the Biological, Biochemical and Biophysical processes throughout its life cycle.


Interestingly, DNA is not directly involved in carrying out the biological processes inside a Cell. That work is mostly carried out by the Protein and huge complexes are able to form a bunch of Proteins for more complex multiCellular Organisms like human beings. These Proteins are created from the information encoded within the DNA. And the two major processes required for the information contained in the strands of DNA to be converted into the functioning Proteins are - Transcription and Translation. 

Central Dogma in Molecular Biology

The Central Dogma of Molecular Biology is the main principle explanation of how the information flows in Molecular Biology. Generally stating, the Central Dogma says that:

  • Deoxyribo-Nucleic Acid (DNA) makes Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) and RNA makes Protein. 

  • This rule is universally true in most cases.

  • Thus, the central dogma clearly states that the information is passed from the DNA to RNA and from RNA to Protein. As mentioned above, there are two processes which carry out this transfer of information - Transcription and Translation. Hence, we can say that Transcription is what makes the information flow from DNA to RNA and Translation is what makes the same information received in the form of RNA, to flow to Proteins. Thus, it can be said, the process of Protein manufacturing or Protein synthesis is called Translation.

  • The process Translation is given below in more detail.


Translation is the process of Polymerisation of Amino Acids to form a chain of Polypeptides. The Amino Acids are the structural units of Proteins and these Polypeptides are essentially Proteins and Protein complexes. The order and sequence of the Polymerisation of the Amino Acids are defined by the sequence of the Nucleic Acid bases in the messenger RNA (mRNA). 

Components of Translation

The process Translation is generally carried out inside the Ribosomes, an organelle of the Cell. These Ribosomes are equipped with ribosomal RNA, structural RNAs and about 80 important Proteins. Owing to the importance of Ribosomes, in Protein synthesis i.e. carrying out the process of Translation, Ribosomes are called the manufacturing unit of the Cell.


The Ribosomes facilitate the formation of the polypeptide bond of the amino acids. They serve as the platform where different tRNA molecules carrying specific amino acids and energy molecules such as ATP and GTP, come together in an enclosed space, and since they are near to each other energetically favorable conditions occur for the formation of polypeptide chains of the amino acids.


Another function of the Ribosome is also to act as a catalyst for the formation of the peptide bond. Various enzymes in the Ribosomes act upon the interacting tRNA and amino acid molecules playing a vital role in the passing of the information from RNA to the Proteins and efficiently utilizing the energy molecules to carry out the reactions.  In uniCellular Organisms such as bacteria, 23 Sribosomal RNA known as the ribozymes, it serves as a catalyst.


Stages of the Translation Process

The process Translation utilizes the components of Translation during the following three stages.

  • Initiation

  • Elongation


Initiation: For initiation, the Ribosome binds to the mRNA. This binding happens at the start codon - a stretch of three nucleobases namely Adenine, Uracil and Guanine (AUG). This starting code is only recognized by the initiator tRNA which carries the methionine amino acid with it. Hence, usually in most cases, the sequence of a Protein starts with methionine.


Elongation: This stage is characterized by the addition of amino acids one by one and the formation of a polypeptide chain in a sequence determined by the DNA and represented by the RNA. In this stage, complexes made up of amino acids bound to tRNA sequentially attach to the next in line three pairs of nucleobase or called as codons on the mRNA and the Ribosome moves from codon to codon on the mRNA producing the polypeptide.


Termination: In this last stage, a release factor binds to the stop codon, and termination of Translation and releasing the complete polypeptide from the Ribosome.


Have you ever wondered how antibiotics kill bacteria, such as sinus infections? Different antibiotics work in different ways, but some attack the very basic processes of bacterial Cells. They suppress the ability to make new Proteins. Due to the use of some molecular Biology vocabulary, these antibiotics block Translation. When translating, Cells read information from molecules called messenger RNA (mRNA) and use that information to build Proteins. Translation, like most Cells in your body, is always done with normal bacterial Cells and is the key to keeping you (and your bacterial "visitor") alive.  When you take certain antibiotics (such as erythromycin), the antibiotic molecules attach to the major Translation molecules in the bacterial Cells and basically "block" them. Because there is no way to make Protein, the bacteria stop functioning and eventually die. Therefore, treatment with antibiotics eliminates the infection. 

 "Translate" literally means "send". That means Translation. In this case, the information that originally existed in the genome is transmitted, fixed in DNA, and then transcribed into messenger RNA. This information is then translated into Protein by messenger RNA. So you get the same information, but from one format to another. Nucleic acid code to the amino acid code of a Protein. This Translation is not done for individual characters. In this case, the fact that all words are the same length is very similar to human language and other languages. They are all three words long, in this case the reader is what is known as the Ribosome, a large multi-subunit molecular machine that travels along mRNA, like a person reading Braille. To read. It reads, recognizes what those letters are, and when it recognizes what those three letters are, it determines which amino acids to add to the  amino acid chain, polypeptide chain, that grows to become a Protein. These mRNA letters are called codons, and each codon encodes a different amino acid. And finally, all these amino acids are grouped into Proteins. Cells need Translation to stay alive, and understanding how they work (so that antibiotics can turn them off) can save us from bacterial infections. I can do it. From the first step to the final product, let's take a closer look at how Translation works.


Translation: Big picture 

Translation involves "deciphering" messenger RNA (mRNA) and using that information to build a polypeptide or amino acid chain. For most purposes, a polypeptide is basically just a Protein (with the technical difference that some large Proteins are made up of multiple polypeptide chains). Genetic code


In mRNA, the instructions for constructing a polypeptide are in a group of three nucleotides called codons. The following are some important features of codons to keep in mind as you move forward. 

  • Amino acids have 616161 different codons  

  • Three "stop" codons mark the polypeptide as a stop 

  • The codon AUG is the “start” signal to initiate Translation (also indicates the amino acid methionine). 

  • These relationships between mRNA codons and amino acids are known as the genetic code


Translation: Beginning, Intermediate, End 

Books and movies have three basic parts:  beginning, middle, and ending. The Translation has three parts that are almost the same, but with more descriptive names: start, extension, and end. 

  • Initiation (“Initiation”): At this stage, the Ribosome is combined with the mRNA and the first tRNA to be able to initiate Translation.

  • Elongation (“intermediate”): At this stage, amino acids are transported by tRNA to the Ribosome and bound to form chains. 

  • Termination (“End”): In the final phase, the finished polypeptide is released and functions intraCellularly. Let's take a closer look at how each stage works.


There are some important factors to start translating. These include: 

  • Ribosome (composed of two parts, large and small) 

  • mRNA with a description of the Protein to build 

  • An “initiator” tRNA that carries the first amino acid of a Protein. Most often it is methionine (Met). 

During the imprint, these parts need to be just right together. Together they form a starting complex. This is the molecular structure needed to initiate the production of new Proteins. Within your Cell (and other eukaryotic Cells), Translation initiation occurs as follows: First, the methionine-carrying tRNA attaches to small ribosomal subunits. Together, they bind to the 5'end of the mRNA by recognizing the 5'GTP cap (added during processing in the nucleus). It then "runs" along the mRNA in the 3'direction and stops when it reaches the start codon (although not always the first AUG).



Like all good things, a polypeptide must be terminated at some point. The conversion ends in a process called termination. When a stop codon for mRNA (UAA, UAG, or UGA) enters the A site, a stop codon is generated. The stop codon is recognized by a Protein called a release factor that exactly matches the P site (but not a tRNA). Release factors are usually mixed with enzymes that form peptide bonds. They attach water molecules to the last amino acid in the chain. This reaction separates the strand from the tRNA and releases the newly formed Protein. What now? Fortunately, the Translation "device" is very reusable. After the small ribosomal subunit and the large ribosomal subunit separate from the mRNA and from each other, each element can participate in another round of Translation (and usually participates rapidly).

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is the Translation in Biology Easy Definition?

Translation in Biology can be easily defined as the Translation of the sequence of messenger RNA molecules to a sequence of amino acids or Proteins. Simply speaking, Translation is RNA to Protein. The passage of information from RNA to Protein. Usually, this process is not reversible but exceptions exist. 

2. What are the Three Stages of Translation?

Translation can be divided into three significant stages. These three stages of process Translation are given below:

A. Initiation: Stage where the entire process starts by binding of the Ribosome to mRNA.

B. Elongation: The moving of Ribosome from codon to codon on mRNA and producing polypeptide.

C. Termination: The ending of the process and the release of the polypeptide from the Ribosome.