Transcription and RNA Processing

ID #1804

The Poly(A) tail and the 5' cap provide protection from RNase degradation. What is the RNase trying to do that they structures help prevent?


mRNAs, in both eukaryotes and prokaryotes, are not supposed to be around forever. Ribosomes don't "know" when to stop making protein from them, and a time is likely to come when you don't need any more of that protein. So you have to get rid of the mRNA to stop making that protein, and RNases will accomplish this task. But bacteria (and archae), being single-celled and "alone," are more likely to need to make quick changes than a eukaryotic cell in a multicellular organism. So the eukaryotes would like their mRNAs to be a bit more stable and hang around a bit longer, so they "protect" their mRNAs a little more than bacteria do, by capping and tailing them.

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