The genetic code is the set of rules by which information encoded within genetic material (DNA or mRNA sequences) is translated into proteins by living cells. Biological decoding is done by the ribosome. This links amino acids together in an order specified by mRNA. It uses transfer RNA (tRNA) molecules to carry amino acids and to read the mRNA. The molecules read the mRNA three nucleotides at a time. These nucleotide triplets are called codons. A codon specifies which amino acid will be added next during protein synthesis. There are some exceptions, but usually a three-nucleotide codon represents a single amino acid.
The genetic code among all organisms is very similar. It can be expressed in a simple table with 64 entries.
Images for kids
Genetic code logo of the Globobulimina pseudospinescens mitochondrial genome. The logo shows the 64 codons from left to right, predicted alternatives in red (relative to the standard genetic code). Red line: stop codons. The height of each amino acid in the stack shows how often it is aligned to the codon in homologous protein domains. The stack height indicates the support for the prediction.
Genetic code Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.