The body makes proteins with the help of one important component – genes. However, genes alone cannot directly create proteins.

For proteins to be made, they need to undergo certain processes such as transcription and translation.

These two processes take vital information in DNA and use it for protein production.

difference between transcription and translation


It pertains to the production of RNA strands that are sourced from the DNA strand. During the process of transcription, the strands of DNA are used to build RNA, a substance essential for DNA and protein production.

Basically, what the process of transcription does is it rewrites or transcribes the information found in stored DNA molecules into the new molecule of RNA. (1, 2, and 3)


It is the method in which the information found in mRNA molecules is used in making protein. It is specifically called translation because it is where the code for protein production is found.

Transcription and translation processes are interrelated but they vary in functions. Below is the table that outlines the differences between transcription and translation. (3, 4)

Point of comparisonTranscriptionTranslation
Uses/purposeTranscription is necessary for making copies of RNA of every gene. Such copies are necessary for cellular biochemistry functions.Translation makes it possible to synthesize proteins, which are essential in various bodily functions.
MeaningTranscription is a process by which the genes are used to create RNAs in their functional forms. (4)It is all about protein synthesis. The step is called translation because it translates what is written in the mRNA template. (5)
Where the process takes placeIt occurs in the nucleus.It occurs in the cytoplasm.
End productsMicro RNAs or non-coding RNAs, rRNA, mRNA, and tRNA.Protein
Initiation phaseThe transcription process is triggered to start upon the binding of RNA polymerase proteins to DNA promoters; a substance that directs the location of the initial phase of transcription. (5, 6)The translation phase begins when the ribosome subunits, tRNA, and initiation factor bind to mRNA.
Termination phaseThe end phase is marked by the release of RNA transcript and detachment of polymerase from the DNA.The signal that the termination phase is about to happen is when the ribosome meets one of the three stop codons. The meeting leads to the dissociation of the ribosome causing the release of the polypeptide. (6, 7)
LocalizationThe transcription phase takes place in the cytoplasm of prokaryotes and the nucleus of eukaryotes.The site of the translation process is the cytoplasm in prokaryotes and ribosomes in eukaryotes.
AntibioticsThe process of transcription can be inhibited by certain types of antibiotics, specifically rifampicin and 8-hydroxyquinoline. (7)Antibiotics that inhibit translation are chloramphenicol, anisomycin, tetracycline, cycloheximide, puromycin, erythromycin, and streptomycin.
Types of RNA formedNon-genetic RNAThe expression of RNA leads to forming a polypeptide chain.
UrgencyTranscription happens when there is a need for a specific gene product for a particular tissue.It always follows transcription.
NatureIt is a highly controlled process. The DNA-dependent RNA polymerase enzyme catalyzes and regulates the entire process.Various factors control the translation process such as the enzyme aminoacetyl tRNA synthetase. (8, 9)
Process in eukaryotesEukaryotes’ RNA polymerase is unique and complex. It follows a complementary base pairing DNA rules.It happens in the ribosomes linked to the endoplasmic reticulum.
Process in prokaryotesThe whole process is protein-regulated and functions mainly as signals. The process is closed by blocking the RNA polymerase.The process of translation is particularly confined in the cytoplasm.
Gene expression orderIt is the first and most important step in gene expression. (9)Translation always follows transcription. Although it is the second step, it is of utmost importance as it concludes the process of gene expression.
Order of occurrenceIt occurs before the translation process.It occurs after the transcription process.
Precursor/prerequisiteNon-coding/antisense DNA strandmRNA produced from the transcription
Materials neededRaw materials such as adenine, uracil, guanine, and cytosine.22 amino acids
Elongation processRNA sequence’s elongation happens by way of binding the complementary base pair to the new sequence.Protein elongation takes place through the binding of amino acids.
Enzymatic requirementsDNA-dependent RNA polymeraseAminoacetyl tRNA synthetase
RegulationIn eukaryotes, different transcriptional factors regulate the transcription process. for prokaryotes, it is the operons that regulate the process. (9, 10)The control of the translation process is dependent on the binding of ribosomal units to the translation complex.
Post-event modificationEditing of pre-mRNA through means of splicing before the mature mRNA reaches the ribosome.It includes the folding of polypeptide chains to access 3-D configuration.
Method of detectionThere are various ways to detect the transcription process such as northern blotting, DNA microarray, RT-PCR, and in-situ hybridization.Some of the methods used to detect the translation process are immunoblotting, western blotting, protein sequencing, and enzyme assay.


  • When talking about molecular biology, transcription and translation are the two main topics.
  • Transcription pertains to mRNA synthesis from DNA while the synthesis of protein from mRNA is referred to as translation.
  • Both transcription and translation are processed that belong to cell central dogma along with replication.
  • The intermediate step is transcription whereas the final step is translation. Both play a huge role in molecular biology but note that they are not the same.
  • They look quite related but not quite as the processes happen in a different part of the cell.

In a nutshell, transcription is the process of constructing mRNA from a gene with the help of RNA polymerase. The translation is when a chain of amino acid a-protein is constructed with the aid of tRNA and rRNA.

  • A specialized set of genes called housekeeping genes are formed during the second transcription and translation processes.
  • The housekeeping genes are the ones responsible for regulating the rate and amount of genes expressed in every cell.
  • To form the right protein, it is important to ensure that proper mRNA is created and such the DNA should be copied appropriately during the replication process. in molecular biology, every step is dependent on each other. (5, 9, and 10)



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