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The GeneEd website is scheduled to be retired on March 31, 2019. Selected GeneEd content will be transferred to Genetics Home Reference, another online resource from the National Library of Medicine.

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Transcription (Gene Expression)

Transcription (Gene Expression)

Transcription is the process of making an RNA copy of a gene sequence. This copy, called a messenger RNA (mRNA) molecule, leaves the cell nucleus and enters the cytoplasm, where it directs the synthesis of the protein, which it encodes.

Transcription (Gene Expression)
Images and animations are courtesy of the National Human Genome Research Institute's Talking Glossary (

Materials for Transcription (Gene Expression)


DNA to Protein

Description: Explore DNA and how proteins are made from it

DNA to Protein - Transcription and Translation

Description: Explore how the code embedded in DNA is translated into a protein. Transcription of DNA and translation of mRNA are modeled.

DNA Transcription

Description: An animation of DNA transcription

From DNA to Protein

Description: This 3D animation shows how proteins are made in the cell from the information in the DNA code.

Genes and Transcription

Description: An short animation and activity teaching basic concepts of transcription

Modeling Transcription

Description: Explore how an mRNA copy is made of DNA

The Central Dogma

Description: The Central Dogma of molecular biology is that DNA makes RNA and RNA makes protein. This animation shows how molecular machines transcribe the genes in the DNA of every cell into portable RNA messages, how those messenger RNA are modified and exported from the nucleus, and finally how the RNA code is read to build proteins.

Transcription (Basic)

Description: Watch a 2 minute 3D animation of transcription.


The Information in DNA is Decoded by Transcription

Description: An overview on transcription

The New Genetics - How Genes Work

Description: Information from a science education booklet explaining basic genetic concepts including DNA, RNA, transcription, RNA splicing, translation, ribosomes, antibiotics, genetic diseases, and gene chips

What is the Central Dogma?

Description: The Central Dogma is the process by which the instructions in DNA are converted into a functional product. It was first proposed in 1958 by Francis Crick, discoverer of the structure of DNA.


Gene Expression - The Basics

Description: Express yourself through your genes! See if you can generate and collect three types of protein, then move on to explore the factors that affect protein synthesis in a cell.

Transcribe and Translate a Gene

Description: Learn about transcription and translation by playing this interactive game.

Interactive Tutorials

Cell Transcription and Translation

Description: This interactive activity adapted from the University of Nebraska provides an overview of protein synthesis as well as a more detailed look at transcription and translation.

DNA Sequence Editor Web App

Description: DNA Sequence Editor is a free web tool to analyze and edit your DNA sequence. Enter your DNA sequence and you can get the reverse, complementary or transcription sequence of your DNA. It can also translate your DNA sequence into possible amino acid sequences. It also help you to predict the DNA enzyme digestion result. Just select an enzyme from the list and you can get the size and sequence of each restricted DNA fragment. It is a useful web tool for molecular biology students and professionals. It is a great help for your molecular cloning work.

Heredity - Genetics

Description: Video and practice problems teaching core concepts of genetics, including DNA replication, transcription, translation, and genetic inheritance

Regulating Genes

Description: A classroom activity and interactive tutorial on the regulation of gene expression

The RNA Message is Sometimes Edited

Description: An interactive Web site exploring basic concepts of RNA through historical discovery

Teacher Resources

Cell Differentiation and Gene Expression (Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: This lesson uses the example of cell differentiation to introduce the concept of differential gene expression.

Do you have good taste? (PDF 173.5 KB, Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: Students explore their sense of taste by recording the taste sensations detected when standardized solutions are applied to different areas of their tongue. Students learn that their genotype for certain genes influences their tasting phenotype through the processes of transcription and translation of the genes to produce taste receptor proteins.

Environmental Factors, Inducible Promoters, and Gene Expression (Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: Students explore how changes in gene expression are induced by environmental conditions. The lesson plan involves a bacterial transformation experiment, discussion on skin tanning, and a presentation assignment on regulated gene expression.

Measuring Gene Expression (PDF 1,317.88 KB, Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: Students come up with an experimental design to test 1) that different cell types from the same person result from differences in gene expression OR 2) that tanning is result of skin cells changing their gene expression. Students complete a virtual lab that introduces them to microarray technology. Macromodel Microarrays are used in small groups to measure the gene expression for cancerous versus normal breast tissue, and each group must make a treatment recommendation based on the gene expression results.

Reading DNA (PDF 313.02 KB, Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: Students use edible models of the DNA molecule to transcribe an mRNA sequence, then translate it into a protein.

Visualizing Gene-Expression Patterns

Description: A slide show with video clips illustrating how scientists detect when a gene is being expressed in tissues


Genetic Switches

Description: A video explaining how genetic switches enable old genes to be used in new ways