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6.1: Planning

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12

Key Ideas

  • DNA contains the coded information for the synthesis of specific proteins, which is the result of gene expression.
  • Proteins are large molecules composed of amino acids that perform essential functions in the body.
  • The DNA code, or gene, for a protein resides in the nucleus and is taken by messenger RNA (mRNA) to the ribosome in the cytoplasm for synthesis.
  • Transfer RNA (tRNA) transports each amino acid to the ribosome to take its place in the newly forming protein molecule according to the instructions encoded in the mRNA.


In the previous sections, students learned about DNA replication and its role in mitosis and meiosis. In this section, they study the other function of DNA, the expression of genes to produce specific proteins. Students consider the different functions of proteins in the body and the physical properties that enable them to so many different things. They learn how information for the synthesis of a particular protein is coded for in the DNA molecule. They discuss the problem of how this information is transported from the nucleus to the cytoplasm, where protein synthesis occurs. Students learn how the DNA code is transcribed into a messenger RNA (mRNA) molecule, and how the mRNA message is translated at the ribosome to produce a protein. They study the function of tRNA in decoding the mRNA message and bringing the correct sequence of amino acids to the ribosome to form the growing protein molecule. Students simulate the entire process of protein synthesis through a role-play.



\begin{align*}\checkmark\end{align*} explain how DNA codes for specific proteins.

\begin{align*}\checkmark\end{align*} describe several different functions of proteins in the body.

\begin{align*}\checkmark\end{align*} identify the chemical composition of proteins.

\begin{align*}\checkmark\end{align*} simulate and explain the process of gene expression and protein synthesis in a cell.


amino acids, mRNA, protein synthesis, ribosomes, RNA, tRNA

Student Materials

Activity 5-1: Making Protein

  • Activity Report
  • Signs


Make Protein

Messenger RNA (mRNA)

Transfer RNA (tRNA)/Proline

Transfer RNA (tRNA)/Glutamic Acid 1

Transfer RNA (tRNA)/Glutamic Acid 2

Amino Acid Proline (reverse side: The)

Amino Acid Glutamic Acid 1 (reverse side: Protein)

Amino Acid Glutamic Acid 2 (reverse side: Hemoglobin)

Ribosome (3)

  • String or rope
  • Resource (Optional)

Teacher Materials

Activity 5-1: Making Protein

  • Resource (Optional)
  • Activity Report Answer Key

Advance Preparation

See Activity 5-1 in the student edition

Activity 5-1: Making Protein

  1. Make signs for each of the roles. If the signs are to be computer-generated, print the roles on \begin{align*}8.5” \times 11”\end{align*} sheets of paper. Staple or glue the sheets onto a piece of construction paper. Color code for roles requiring more than one player, such as tRNA and its corresponding amino acid. An alternative is to print the role names onto the color-coded construction paper.
  2. Punch two holes in each sign and attach a piece of string so that the sign can be worn around the player's neck.
  3. Prepare a copy of the selected script for each player (10 copies). Highlight each player's part throughout the script. It might be helpful to provide scripts for all members of the class. As an option use Resource 1 as the script.
  4. Arrange the string/rope in a large circle to represent the cell membrane. You could also use chalk to represent the cell membrane.
  5. Mark off a circle inside the cell to represent the nucleus.
  6. Place ribosome signs inside the cell membrane.

Interdisciplinary Connections

Social Studies Research the history and the importance of the Morse code and compare the similarities and difference in how DNA codes its information.

Language Arts Study an alphabet which is different from ours and determine what coding differences, if any, are inherent.

Art Create a set of models to simulate protein production within the cell. Use these mode ls to explain the process of protein synthesis to the class.

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Date Created:
Feb 23, 2012
Last Modified:
Sep 06, 2014
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