Skip to main content
Because of a lapse in government funding, the information on this website may not be up to date, transactions submitted via the website may not be processed, and the agency may not be able to respond to inquiries until appropriations are enacted.

The NIH Clinical Center (the research hospital of NIH) is open. For more details about its operating status, please visit

Updates regarding government operating status and resumption of normal operations can be found at

1961: mRNA Ferries Information

Illustration of messenger RNASydney Brenner, Francois Jacob, and Matthew Meselson discovered that mRNA is the molecule that takes information from DNA in the nucleus to the protein-making machinery in the cytoplasm. When DNA was determined to be the hereditary material, scientists wondered how DNA, which is sequestered in the nucleus, directs the formation of proteins, when protein synthesis occurs in the cytoplasm. RNA is the intermediary molecule. Specifically, messenger RNA, or mRNA, ferries information from the nucleus to the cytoplasm.

RNA is chemically similar to DNA except that:

  • The sugar in its nucleotide building blocks is ribose and not deoxyribose.
  • RNA uses the nucleotide base uracil instead of thymine. But like thymine, uracil can pair with adenine.
  • RNA, especially mRNA, tends to be single-stranded, not double-stranded like DNA.


« Previous Event | Next Event »



Top of page

Last Updated: April 26, 2013