6. Protein Factory

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Using a DNA model like the one created in the DNA Models lesson, students take on the role of various parts of the cell in order to model the process of protein synthesis. Each student receives a card describing, step by step, what s/he should be doing. In a class of 30:

  • RNA codons: each 3 nucleotide codon in this mRNA molecule has been highlightedRNA codons: each 3 nucleotide codon in this mRNA molecule has been highlighted4 students are DNA. They help the RNA polymerase unzip the double stranded DNA and zip it back together again once it has been transcribed.
  • 1 student is RNA polymerase. S/he identifies a promotor sequence, reads one strand of DNA, finds the matching RNA nucleotide, and assembles the messenger RNA.
  • 4 students are messenger RNA. They assemble RNA nucleotides and carry the finished messenger RNA molecule out of the nucleus to the ribosome.
  • 1 student is the ribosome. S/he identifies the AUG start sequence, reads the messenger RNA, finds the matching transfer RNA, and assembles a protein.
  • 20 students are transfer RNA. Each is assigned a different amino acid and assembles transfer RNA molecules for the ribosome. When the amino acid is removed, the students removes the empty transfer RNA.

Can explain how DNA codes for a sequence of amino acids.
Can explain the differences between DNA and RNA.
Can describe the process of transcription and translation.

RNA polymerase
Messenger RNA
Transfer RNA
Amino acids
Genetic code

Attachment Size
6protein_factory.doc 59 KB
factory_instructions.doc 37 KB
protein_pieces.pdf 638.23 KB