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This list of websites provide tools and resources for teaching the concepts of transcription and translation, two key steps in 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. Here is a more complete definition of transcription: Transcription

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. Here is a more complete definition of translation: Translation


Teachers' Domain: Cell Transcription and Translation

Teachers' Domain is a free educational resource produced by WGBH with funding from the NSF, which houses thousands of media resources, support materials, and tools for classroom lessons.One of these resources focuses on the topics of transcription and translation.This resource is an interactive activity that starts with a general overview of the central dogma of molecular biology, and then goes into more specific details about the processes of transcription and translation.In addition to the interactive activity, the resource also includes a background narrative and discussion questions that could be used for assessment.Although the material is designated as appropriate content for grades, 9-12, it would serve as an excellent introduction to the topic for biology majors, or would be well suited for non-biology majors at the post-secondary level. See: Teachers' Domain: Cell Transcription and Translation 

The DNA Learning Center's (DNALC)
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute's DNA interactive (DNAi)
The University of Utah's Genetic Science Learning Center

The DNA Learning Center's (DNALC) website, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's DNA interactive (DNAi) website, and the University of Utah's Genetic Science Learning Center website listed below contain excellent narrated animations describing transcription and translation. These animations are useful as a lecture supplement or for students to review on their own. The DNALC animations cover central dogma, transcription (basic and advanced), mRNA splicing, RNA splicing, triplet code and translation (basic and advanced). The DNAi modules," Reading the Code" and "Copying the Code," describe the history of the process, the scientists involved in the discovery, and the basics of the process, and also include an animation and interactive game. Particularly useful to students are the interactive animations from the University of Utah that allow one to, for example,"Transcribe/Translate a Gene"or examine the effects of gene mutation as they "Test Neurofibromin Activity in a Cell."

The DNA Learning Center's (DNALC): 3-D Animation Library
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute's DNA interactive: (DNAi): Code
The University of Utah's Genetic Science Learning Center: Transcribe and Translate a Gene


The Nature Education website, Scitable, is a great study resource for students who want to learn more about, or are having difficulty understanding, transcription and translation. The site contains a searchable library, including many "overviews" of transcription, translation, and related topics. Students have access to a Genetics "Study Pack", which provides explanations, animations, and links to other resources.In addition, Scitable has an "Ask An Expert" feature that allows students to submit specific genetics-related questions. See: Scitable

NHGRI Talking Glossary of Genetics Terms iPhone App and Website

The Talking Glossary of Genetics Terms website and iPhone app provide an easily transportable and accessible reference for your students. Many times the unfamiliar vocabulary is the major stumbling block to student comprehension. This app/site gives them a handy reference to common terms used in describing the components involved on transcription and translation.
Talking Glossary of Genetics Terms
Talking Glossary of Genetics Terms iPhone App

University of Buffalo Case Study Collection: Decoding the Flu

This "clicker case" was designed to develop students' ability to read and interpret information stored in DNA. Making use of personal response systems ("clickers") along with a PowerPoint presentation, students follow the story of "Jason," a student intern at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). While working with a CDC team in Mexico, Jason is the only person who does not get sick from a new strain of flu. It is up to Jason to use molecular data collected from different local strains of flu to identify which one may be causing the illness. Although designed for an introductory biology course for science or non-science majors, the case could be adapted for upper-level courses by including more complex problems and aspects of gene expression, such as the excision of introns."
See: Decoding the Flu

Protein Synthesis Animation from Biology-Forums.com

Translation is the process of producing proteins from the mRNA. This YouTube video shows the molecular components involved in the process. It also animates how the peptide is elongated through interaction between mRNA, ribosome, tRNA, and residues. Protein Synthese Animation

The Central Dogma Animation by RIKEN Omics Science Center

The 'Central Dogma' of molecular biology is that 'DNA makes RNA makes protein'. This anime 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. Animation: The Central Dogma

A Prezi of this information can be found at: NHGRI Teacher Resouces-Central Dogma

Contributing Team of Educators:

Kari D. Loomis, Ph.D., Mars Hill College
Luisel Ricks, Ph.D., Howard University
Mark Bolt, Ph.D., University of Pikeville
Cathy Dobbs, Ph.D., Joliet Junior College
Changhui Yan, Ph.D., North Dakota State University
Solomon Adekunle, Ph.D., Southern University

Last updated: February 13, 2014