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Molecular Biology Review module of the MLA course on Introduction to Molecular Biology Information Resources
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Central Dogma of Biology: Classic View


The classic view of the central dogma of biology states that "the coded genetic information hard-wired into DNA is transcribed into individual transportable cassettes, composed of messenger RNA (mRNA); each mRNA cassette contains the program for synthesis of a particular protein (or small number of proteins)."

Sources:  Definition from Chapter 1: The Dynamic Cell, of Molecular Cell Biology.
Illustration adapted from the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) Genetic Illustrations entry for mRNA.

New discoveries and exceptions to the rule...
As a general rule, the classic view of central dogma of biology reflects how molecular biology data are organized within the databases (e.g, by molecule type such as genomic DNA, mRNA, protein). However, many exceptions to this dogma are now known as a result of genomic studies in recent years. For example, much of the DNA that does not encode proteins is now known to encode various types of functional RNAs, as the following papers describe:

  • Barry, P. 2007. Genome 2.0: Mountains of new data are challenging old views. Science News 172(10):154 (week of Sept. 8).    full text

  • The RNA revolution: Biology's Big Bang. The Economist, Jun 14th 2007. full text

    • The article above also includes a link to:
      RNA: Really New Advances. The Economist, Jun 14th 2007. full text

  • Gerstein MB, Bruce C, Rozowsky JS, Zheng D, Du J, Korbel JO, Emanuelsson O, Zhang ZD, Weissman S, Snyder M. 2007. What is a gene, post-ENCODE? History and updated definition. Genome Research 17(6):669-81 (June).    PubMed;  full text

  • ENCODE Project Consortium. 2007. Identification and analysis of functional elements in 1% of the human genome by the ENCODE pilot project. Nature Jun 14;447(7146):799-816   PubMed

Non-coding RNAs are also in the nucleotide databases...
These non-coding, functional RNAs are also available in the nucleotide databases, in addition to the DNA, mRNA, and protein molecule types reflected in the classical view of the central dogma of biology. More information about both coding and non-coding RNAs is provided in the RNA Resources module of the 5-day NCBI Advanced Workshop for Bioinformatics Information Specialists

Molecular Biology Review
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Revised 11/05/2007