Codon vs Anticodon: Difference and Comparison

Human biology consists of fascinating facts about all the bodily processes and mechanisms involved in the living activity. All the microscopic activities in a cell determine the outcome we observe.

Genetic codes are a set of instructions sequence that guides the information (for, e.g. the colour of eyes, skin colour)  as a nucleotide to pass on in sequence and translate into the respective protein.

Coding is done to form pairs, just like a mathematical equation where ‘x+y’ would give a ‘z’.

In a living being, everything is coded from a microscopic level to form complexity in characters. The critical outcome of coding is the protein formation that remains the basic block of all the functioning and structure.

Codons and Anticodons code simultaneously to build a polypeptide chain during protein synthesis.

Key Takeaways

  1. A codon is a sequence of three nucleotides in mRNA (messenger RNA) corresponding to a specific amino acid or stop signal during protein synthesis.
  2. An anticodon is a sequence of three nucleotides in tRNA (transfer RNA) that pairs with a complementary codon in mRNA during protein synthesis, ensuring the correct amino acid is incorporated.
  3. Both codons and anticodons are essential for protein synthesis, with codons found in mRNA and representing amino acids, while anticodons in tRNA facilitate accurate translation of the genetic code.

Codon vs Anticodon

The difference between Codon and Anticodon is their placement; codon is placed in the mRNA (messenger RNA) strand in series, whereas anticodon is placed in one of the loops of tRNA (transfer RNA) individually during the protein synthesis.

Codon vs Anticodon

Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonCondonAnticodon
LocationIt’s situated in the mRNA strand.Anticodon can be found in one of the loops in a (transfer RNA) tRNA.
FunctionCodon transfers the genetic information from the nucleus of DNA to the mRNA.It carries amino acids in its tRNA structure.
SequenceThey are read from 5′ to 3′, where the numbers define the orientation of nucleotides.The reading frame is from 3′ to 5′ direction.
ComplementarityIt is complementary to the parent DNA’s nucleotide, from where it is converted to a single-stranded RNA.Anticodons are complementary to their respective codons as per base-pairing rules.
AmountThe mRNA chain comprises multiple nucleotides grouped in 3 to form many codon units.Each tRNA has just one amino acid and a single anticodon.


What is Codon?

A codon is an assembly of nucleotides, a three-base sequence of nitrogenous bases in a row, that performs at the time of translation; a group of three nucleotides forms a specific code which determines what output would come.

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mRNA is a single-stranded polynucleotide molecule consisting of adenine, guanine, cytosine, and uracil as nucleotides form a set of three in different orders to form subsequent codons.

In simple words, the codon is a language capable of communicating and expressing using nucleotides as words and polypeptides as a sentence where terms form sentences and create a language to run a bodily function.

Understanding how amino acid is coded helps under human traits and how a change in the nucleotide sequence can alter this.

Start Codon: It is a universal codon and the very first nucleotide of messenger RNA that initiates any process of gene formation. AUG ( Adenine, Uracil, and Guanine) codes for Methionine which is a start codon.

Stop Codon: Codons are 64 in totality but only 61 codes for an amino acid. The three remaining do not code for anything hence the term stop codon. They help terminate the process once the required protein is formed.


What is Anticodon?

Anticodon is a three-base pair of nucleotides, like codons; they help proceed with protein synthesis while binding with the codons on the mRNA strand.

It is found in the tRNA, which consists of different loops each carrying information, the top region carries amino acid, and the bottom one carries an individual anticodon during the translation process.

As the namesake tRNA, it helps in the transfer. It acts as a carrier; that is, it carries amino acids to the ribosome during translation.

It ensures the correct codon is recognized through the complementarity phenomenon of genetic coding and the base-pairing rule.

After recognizing a suitable partner in the codon chain, it binds with it through a hydrogen bond at the time of protein production. Like Codons, anticodons are 61 in number while 3 remain the stop codons with AUG (methionine) as a universal start codon.

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UGA, UAA, and UAG are the three-stop codons, and the placement of one of them in the mRNA strand terminates the translation process where no anticodon can recognize them, and the protein is released.

Main Differences Between Codon and Anticodon

  1. The main difference between codon and anti-codon is that both are situated. Differently, the codon, a set of three nucleotides, is found on the messenger RNA, whereas tRNA carrying amino acid contains anti codon in one of its loop structures.
  2. Codons are in multiple sequences where the start codon initiates and the stop codon ends; anti codons appear individually in each tRNA molecule.
  3. The reading frame of the codon is 5′ to 3′, and the anti-codons follow directions 3′ to 5′.
  4. The nucleotide in the codon set compliments that of DNA from the transcription process, but anti-codons are complementary to its codon.
  5. Codon carries the genetic information to the mRNA from the transcription process, whereas anti-codon brings amino acid in the tRNA structure during translation.


Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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24 thoughts on “Codon vs Anticodon: Difference and Comparison”

  1. The article provides a deep dive into the complex world of human biology, highlighting the intricate details of codons and anticodons.


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