Difference Between Transcription and Translation

The human body is made of the complex structure of DNA that contains many cells, where each cell has one defined function to perform. Cells must function properly as it directly affects the immunity and other organs of the body.

Many underlying processes happen in the human body which supports the cell functioning. Transcription and Translation are two such important processes that are involved in the gene expression process.

Transcription vs Translation

The main difference between transcription and translation is that transcription involves the creation of mRNA from DNA whereas translation does the protein synthesis by using the mRNA strands. In molecular biology, the decoding of DNA into mRNA is done by transcription and the development of proteins by RNA is done by translation is defined as the important and central dogma.

Transcription vs Translation

The first step in the gene expression is called Transcription where enzyme RNA polymerase copies the genes from the particular segment of the DNA into mRNA (messenger RNA).

DNA bases get bound to the appropriate nucleosides after DNS helix unwinds and then connect to the matching RNA segment of the DNA strand to make a complementary RNA i.e. mRNA.

The translation is the second step and happens after transcription where mRNA is converted further into the required proteins. In this, mRNA gets attached to ribosomes and further decoded to specific amino acids that form polypeptide by connecting each other, and then makes the protein.


Comparison Table Between Transcription and Translation (in Tabular Form)

Parameter of ComparisonTranscriptionTranslation
DefinitionTranscription is the process of synthesizing mRNA from DNA.Translation is the process of synthesizing proteins from mRNA.
Happen InIt occurs inside the cytoplasm in prokaryotes and nucleus in eukaryotes.It occurs in cytoplasma.
UsesIt requires RNA polymerase.Use different reagents to create a polypeptide chain.
Starting PointIt starts when RNA polymerase protein binds in DNA to the promoter, which then forms a transcription initiation complex. Here, the promoter tells the location in the DNA strand from where the initiation of the transcription will start.Start as soon as the ribosome subunits and initiation factors and mRNA bounded by t-RNA where the AUG starts codon.
End ProductmRNA, rRNA, tRNA, and non-coding RNA.Proteins


What is Transcription?

Transcription is the process of creating a complementary RNA strand using DNA as a template. In simple words, it is the first step in gene expression where specific genes are copied from DNA to make RNA.

It is the first stage where protein production gets started. DNA is a complex structure where genetic information of the individual or living organism is stored, which is used or transferred to RNA through the transcription process.

In the transcription process, three types of RNA are formed i.e. mRNA (messenger RNA), tRNA (transfer RNA) and rRNA (ribosomal RNA).

Pre-initiation, initiation, elongation, and termination are the four stages that occur in transcription.

  1. Pre-initiation: In this step, DNA is denatured i.e. RNA polymerase gets bind with the promoter area of the DNA. Here promoter identifies the area from where DNA will be copied.
  2. Initiation: Insertion of complementary ribonucleosides happens which then joined together by phosphodiester bonds.
  3. Elongation: Separation of RNA strand from the DNA template starts here.
  4. Termination: Before RNA gets disassociated from the DNA, RNA gets the signal from the termination sequence to start forming the secondary structure just like a hairpin.

What is Translation?

The translation is the next step in gene expression where the output of the transcription process i.e. mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid) are synthesized to make proteins.

Each strand of mRNA stores specific chemical information in it that is used by this process to produce the chain of amino acids, which is also called a polypeptide chain.

It is important to note that different genes are coded in each strand of mRNA that forms a different protein.

Initiation, elongation, and termination are the three main stages of the Translation Process. The ribosome is essential in this process as their subunits are used to make proteins.

  1. Initiation: Ribosomal units, small as well as large, and tRNA gets attach to mRNA.
  2. Elongation: Amino acids of the tRNA molecules binds and get attached to mRNA. Here two charged tRNA molecules are used that get attached to mRNA.
  3. Termination: From tRNA, the last amino acids in the polypeptide chain are released by GTP-dependent release factors. Post this tRNA gets released.

Main Differences Between Transcription and Translation

Transcription and Translation, the both, play an equal role and are important in the flow of genetic information process within the cell i.e. from the gene in DNA to mRNA and then mRNA to proteins.

Both processes are vital for each other as one can’t occur without others.

But, there exists an essential difference between transcription and translation, such as

  1. Transcription is the formation of RNA from DNA, whereas translation is the synthesizing RNA to make proteins i.e. polypeptide over ribosome.
  2. In transcription, the antisense strand of the DNA is used as a template, whereas in translation mRNA acts as a template.
  3. Transcription happens inside the cytoplasm in prokaryotes and nucleus in eukaryotes, whereas translation happens in cytoplasm.
  4. In Transcription, ATP, GTP. CTP and UTP i.e. four types of ribo-nucleoside triphosphates are used as raw material, whereas in translation 20 different types of amino acids are used as raw materials.
  5. In Transcription, rRNA, tRNA, and mRNA are formed, and all these forms of RNA are used in the process of translation.
  6. In Transcription, slicing is involved, whereas in translation slicing is absent.
  7. In Transcription, RNA polymerases are required, whereas in translation different reagents are used to create a polypeptide chain.
  8. In Transcription, in template Polymerase moves over, whereas, in translation, Ribosome moves over the mRNA.
Difference Between Transcription and Translation


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Transcription and Translation

What is a translation in DNA?

The translation is the process in which the information is passed from the DNA as a message and the RNA converts it into a series of amino acids that are bound together with the help of peptide bonds.
The site where all the action takes place in the ribosomes.

What are the types of translation?

The types of DNA translations are as follows: the first type of translation is the mRNA translation. The second type of translation is tRNA translation. All these translations include a nucleotide basis.

What are the steps in DNA translation?

The steps of DNA translation are as follows:
The first step is the activation which is making ready.
The 2nd step is the initiation which is to start.
The third step is the elongation which is to make longer. The final step is the termination which means to stop.

What molecules are involved in translation?

For the process of translation to happen, the following molecules are required: the first molecule is the ribosomes contains all the protein.
The second molecule is ribosomal RNA. The third molecule is the transfer RNA. The fourth molecule is messenger RNA.

Who discovered Translation?

Francis Crick, who was the co-discoverer of the DNA structure is known to be the founder of translation.
He is the one who did the maximum work of deciding the genetic code and helped in developing the related theories of human biology and anatomy.

What is the process of transcription?

Transcription is the process in which the gene of a DNA sequence is copied and made into an RNA molecule.
The first step is activation, the second step is initiation, the third step is elongation and fourth step is termination.

Where does the process of the transcription start?

Transcription is a process that begins when RNA polymer binds with the promoter sequence at the beginning of the gene.
The first step of the transcription process is the activation which is to get ready. The activation step is followed by the initiation.



DNA is the basic building block of any living organism which stores primary and crucial genetic information of the individual. There are various by-products of DNA that are used by the body to function smoothly, especially the cell processes.

Transcription and translation play an indispensable role and are fundamental in the process of DNA functioning.

Any deviation or even a little change can badly impact the entire sequence of processes and would not allow them to function properly.

Key Differences Between Transcription and Translation (PDF Format)

Download the key differences in .PDF format, to read or print them later:

Difference Between Transcription and Translation



  1. https://www.nature.com/articles/nrc1753
  2. https://science.sciencemag.org/content/293/5532/1139.short
  3. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1970-20350-001
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Oliver Bendas
Oliver Bendas

So if I have to conclude it again from my side, the mRNA is the stuff that does bulk of work of copying the DNA?

Piyush Yadav
Piyush Yadav
Reply to  Oliver Bendas

Hi Oliver,

Yes as you can read in the comparison table given above, that is correct.

Beula Offerdahl
Beula Offerdahl

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Piyush Yadav
Piyush Yadav

Happy to provide information on allergy-related topics to help people out.

Cecily Trivino
Cecily Trivino

So if I also try to summarize this difference then it is the mRNA that does all the crucial work in transcription and translation processes.