The central dogma of molecular biology states that DNA is transcribed into RNA, which is then translated into proteins. Understanding the structure and function of DNA is essential to comprehend this process fully. One critical aspect of DNA is the concept of sense and antisense strands. This article will explore the difference between these two strands and their importance in various biological processes.
Definition of Sense and Antisense Strands:
DNA is composed of four nucleotide bases: adenine (A), thymine (T), guanine (G), and cytosine (C). The sense strand of DNA is the sequence of nucleotides that directly codes for a protein. It has the same sequence as the RNA transcript created during transcription, except that RNA has uracil (U) instead of thymine. The antisense strand is the complementary sequence to the sense strand. It is the template for RNA synthesis but does not directly code for proteins.
Differences between Sense and Antisense Strands:
One key difference between sense and antisense strands is their directionality. The sense strand runs from the 5’ to the 3’ end, while the antisense strand runs in the opposite direction, from the 3’ to the 5’ end. Another difference is the nucleotide sequence. The sense strand has the same sequence as the RNA transcript, while the antisense strand has a complementary sequence. Finally, the two strands have different biological functions. The sense strand codes for proteins, while the antisense strand serves as a template for RNA synthesis.
Importance of Sense and Antisense Strands:
The sense and antisense strands play critical roles in several biological processes. Both strands serve as templates for synthesizing new DNA strands during DNA replication. In transcription, the antisense strand serves as the template for the RNA transcript, which is then translated into proteins by the ribosome using the sense strand as a guide.
DNA sequencing allows scientists to determine the sequence of both strands, revealing mutations and structural variations that could lead to disease. In biotechnology, DNA sequencing allows scientists to use (artificial) antisense RNA to target specific genes and inhibit their expression. This technique, called RNA interference (RNAi), has potential applications in treating genetic diseases and cancer. Another significant application is CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing which uses RNA molecules to guide the Cas9 protein to specific locations in the genome, allowing for precise gene editing.
Here’s an in-depth comparison of the both DNA strands:
|Directly codes for a protein
|Complementary to the sense strand and does not code for protein
|Runs from 5′ to 3′ direction
|Runs from 3′ to 5′ direction
|Has the same nucleotide sequence as the RNA transcript except for thymine (T) being replaced with uracil (U)
|Has a complementary nucleotide sequence to the RNA transcript
|Is transcribed by RNA polymerase to form RNA
|Serves as a template for RNA synthesis
|Biological function is to produce proteins
|Biological function is to act as a template for RNA synthesis
|Typically contains a start codon (AUG) that signals the beginning of protein synthesis
|Typically does not contain a start codon (AUG) and instead contains a stop codon (UAA, UAG, or UGA) that signals the end of transcription
|Has a positive (+) polarity
|Has a negative (-) polarity
|May contain regulatory regions, such as enhancers and promoters, that influence gene expression
|May contain regulatory regions, such as silencers and enhancers, that influence gene expression
|May be used as a template for DNA replication
|May also be used as a template for DNA replication, as both strands serve as templates during replication