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Translation is the process of translating the sequence of a messenger RNA (mRNA) molecule to a sequence of amino acids during protein synthesis. The genetic code describes the relationship between the sequence of base pairs in a gene and the corresponding amino acid sequence that it encodes. In the cell cytoplasm, the ribosome reads the sequence of the mRNA in groups of three bases to assemble the protein.

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

Materials for Translation


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.

From DNA to Protein

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

Modeling Translation

Description: Explore how a protein is made from an mRNA sequence

Protein Synthesis

Description: An animation of protein synthesis

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.

Translation (Basic)

Description: A 3D animation of translation

Translation - Making a Protein from Messenger RNA

Description: Translation is the key process for making a protein from the genetic code expressed in the DNA. Watch translation unfold in this animation.


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.


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.

Genetic Decoder Web App

Description: A handy genetic code converter for students and researchers in biological sciences. Simply click to change DNA or RNA codons and related amino acid information will be displayed. User also can browse information by selecting an amino acid from the list. Converter (available only in iPad and desktop version) can translate any format of DNA or RNA into protein sequence. It is also suitable for students to grasp the key concept of genetic code.

Heredity - Genetics

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

RNA is an Intermediary Between DNA and Protein

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

Translating an mRNA Sequence

Description: A short interactive activity translating codons into amino acids

Teacher Resources

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.