Why is it called the central dogma of biology?

Getting Started

The central dogma of biology is one of the fundamental principles in the field of genetics and molecular biology. Coined by Francis Crick in 1958, it describes the flow of genetic information within living organisms. Understanding the mechanisms and significance of this dogma is crucial to understanding the fundamental processes that govern life itself. In this article, we explore the origins, structure, and underlying principles of the central dogma of biology.

The Central Dogma: A Brief Overview

The central dogma of biology serves as a framework for understanding the process by which genetic information is stored, replicated, and used in living systems. The dogma describes the unidirectional flow of genetic information from DNA to RNA to protein and includes three main processes: replication, transcription, and translation.

Replication is the process by which a DNA molecule is duplicated to produce an identical copy. Transcription involves the synthesis of an RNA molecule using a DNA template. Finally, translation is the process by which the information encoded in the RNA molecule is used to synthesize a protein. These sequential steps ensure the transmission of genetic information from one generation to the next and the production of functional proteins that perform essential biological functions.

The origin of the term: Central dogma

The term “central dogma” was first introduced by Francis Crick in 1958 during a lecture at the Symposium of the Society for Experimental Biology. Crick used the term to describe the fundamental process of genetic information transfer in living organisms. He emphasized that the flow of genetic information is unidirectional and is mediated primarily by DNA, RNA, and proteins.

The term “dogma” in the context of the Central Dogma of Biology refers to a principle or tenet that is held to be an incontrovertible truth. Crick chose this term to emphasize the importance and universality of the process he was describing. It is important to note, however, that Crick himself later acknowledged that the term “dogma” may have been too strong a word, since scientific knowledge is subject to refinement and revision based on new discoveries.

The central dogma in detail

The Central Dogma begins with DNA, the molecule that carries hereditary information in all living organisms. DNA is a double-stranded helical structure composed of nucleotides, each of which contains a sugar, a phosphate group, and one of four nitrogenous bases: adenine (A), thymine (T), cytosine (C), and guanine (G). The sequence of these bases makes up the genetic code.

During DNA replication, the two strands of the DNA molecule separate, and each strand serves as a template for the synthesis of a new complementary strand. This process results in two identical DNA molecules, each containing one original strand and one newly synthesized strand.

Transcription is the next step in the central dogma, where a segment of DNA is used as a template to synthesize a complementary RNA molecule. This RNA molecule, called messenger RNA (mRNA), carries the genetic information from the DNA to the site of protein synthesis.

Finally, translation occurs when the mRNA is read by ribosomes, which are molecular machines composed of proteins and RNA. The information encoded in the mRNA is translated into a specific sequence of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. This sequence of amino acids determines the structure and function of the protein that is synthesized.

The Importance of the Central Dogma

The central dogma of biology is of immense importance because it provides a framework for understanding the relationship between DNA, RNA, and proteins. It establishes the fundamental processes by which genetic information is stored, replicated, and expressed, and plays a central role in the development, growth, and function of all living organisms.

By unraveling the mechanisms underlying the central dogma, researchers have been able to uncover the causes of genetic diseases, develop diagnostic tools, and design targeted therapeutic interventions. In addition, advances in genetic engineering and synthetic biology have been made possible by our understanding of the Central Dogma, enabling the manipulation and engineering of genetic material for various applications.


The central dogma of biology encapsulates the essential principles governing the flow of genetic information within living organisms. Since its inception by Francis Crick, this concept has guided our understanding of DNA, RNA, and protein synthesis, paving the way for groundbreaking discoveries and advances in the field of genetics. By unraveling the intricacies of the central dogma, scientists continue to deepen their understanding of the fundamental processes of life, providing new insights into the mechanisms that underlie the complexity of organisms and opening avenues for further scientific exploration.


Why is it called the central dogma of biology?

The term “central dogma” in biology refers to the fundamental process that describes the flow of genetic information. It was coined by Francis Crick, one of the co-discoverers of the structure of DNA, to emphasize the central role this process plays in biological systems.

What does the central dogma of biology state?

The central dogma of biology states that genetic information flows in one direction, from DNA to RNA to proteins. It describes the two-step process of transcription, where DNA is copied into RNA, and translation, where RNA is used as a template to synthesize proteins.

Why is the central dogma considered central to biology?

The central dogma is considered central to biology because it outlines the fundamental mechanism by which genetic information is stored, transmitted, and expressed in living organisms. It provides a framework for understanding how genes control the synthesis of proteins, which are essential for the structure and function of cells.

What is the significance of the central dogma in understanding genetic diseases?

The central dogma is crucial for understanding genetic diseases because it allows us to trace the path from genetic mutations to the resulting abnormalities in protein synthesis. Mutations in the DNA sequence can disrupt the transcription or translation process, leading to the production of faulty proteins, which can contribute to various genetic disorders.

Does the central dogma apply to all organisms?

The central dogma applies to all known organisms, including bacteria, plants, animals, and humans. While some variations in the mechanisms of gene expression and regulation exist, the fundamental principles of the central dogma hold true across different species.