The central dogma of modern biology is the conversion of the genetic message
in DNA to a functional mRNA (transcription) and subsequent conversion of
the copied genotype to a phenotype in the form of proteins.
The process of conversion of mRNA to a functional protein is known as
translation. It involves the attachment of a messenger RNA to the smaller
subunit of a ribosome, the addition of the larger subunit, plus initiation by a
host of other factors. The entire process can be accomplished in the absence of
a cell, if all of the necessary factors are present. Unfortunately, studies on
translation and post-translational changes in protein structure are rather complex.
They require a heavy investment of time and equipment. To some extent, the
electrophoretic identification of proteins is part of this process, and the
appearance of specific proteins can be monitored during any of the developmental
To study the process of translation in any meaningful way requires that
reasonably purified sources of mRNA, ribosomes, and amino acids be available.
In addition, there is a requirement for various factors responsible for peptide chain
initiation on the ribosome.
It is definitely an advanced technique, and requires mastery of many of the
techniques. It must be performed on an
independent basis, since the extensive time commitment does not lend itself to
typical laboratory periods.