Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

Living Edition
| Editors: Muriel Gargaud, William M. Irvine, Ricardo Amils, Henderson James Cleaves, Daniele Pinti, José Cernicharo Quintanilla, Michel Viso


  • Juli Peretó
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27833-4_1599-2



Transcription is the synthesis of an RNA chain by copying a complementary DNA strand of a particular gene (or cluster of genes in bacterial operons). Both in prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells, a DNA template is required for transcription as well as the four ribonucleoside triphosphates (ATP, GTP, CTP, and UTP) acting as substrates and the enzyme RNA polymerase. As a result, a molecule of RNA (mRNA, tRNA, or rRNA) is produced. The initiation of transcription usually requires the presence of an upstream promoter sequence – i.e., a specific sequence to which RNA polymerase binds tightly and that indicates where to start the transcription and which strand of DNA to transcribe. Some RNA viruses (e.g., human immunodeficiency virus, HIV) make a DNA copy of their genome, i.e., synthesize a DNA molecule using RNA as template in a process called reverse transcription (these viruses are known as retrovirus).

See Also


Human Immunodeficiency Virus Reverse Transcription Bioorganic Chemistry Eukaryotic Cell Promoter Sequence 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut Cavanilles de Biodiversitat i Biologia EvolutivaUniversitat de ValènciaValènciaSpain