Transfer RNA (tRNA) is a vital component in the
translation process. Our 3-D tRNA Mini Models will help your students
understand how its structure enables tRNA to perform its important role
in protein synthesis.
Transfer RNAs (tRNA) are short RNA molecules (76 nucleotides) that
deliver amino acids to the ribosome, where they join to a growing
peptide chain during protein synthesis. Transfer RNAs fold into 3-D
structures, stabilized by hydrogen bonding between complementary bases.
Individual amino acids are joined to the 3’-end of the tRNA. On the
other side of the molecule is the anticodon. This is the portion of the
tRNA that recognizes the triplet codons on the messenger RNA (mRNA). In
1964, Robert Holley isolated and determined the structure of tRNA. Just 4
years later, he was awarded the 1968 Nobel Prize in Physiology or
Medicine, a prize he shared with H. Gobind Khorana and Marshall
Nirenberg; all 3 greatly contributed to the areas of transcription and
In the plaster 3-D model, the tRNA protein is shown in spacefill
format. The phosphate backbone of the tRNA is white, the 4 bases are
red, the anticodon is blue, and the 3’-end (where the amino acid is
bound) is yellow. The white, nylon, alpha carbon backbone model shows
additional details not seen on the plaster model.
To date 31 researchers have been awarded Nobel Prizes for their investigations of RNA, spanning 50 years from 1959 to 2009.
Both 3.5'' models are made on rapid prototyping machines and should be
handled with care. Mini models will break if dropped, held tightly or
handled roughly, although nylon models are less likely to break than
plaster models. Their PDB file is 4TNA.pdb.