IUBio Biosequences .. Software .. Molbio soft .. Network News .. FTP

Antisense strand of DNA

Stephen R. Lasky Stephen_Lasky at brown.edu
Fri Dec 22 14:24:21 EST 1995

Maybe it is time to define some sort of convention although I'm not sure
that you will get a lot of interest in doing so.  During the 50's and 60's
(before my time) and 70's (not before my time), there was a convention; 
the template strand was considered to be the sense strand. 

 I believe that the  confusion about which strand was the sense strand
was  in the early to middle 80's when riboprobes were  first used to probe
for transcription off of one strand or the other. To further add to the
confusion, there is anti-sense RNA, that is actually, the same sequence 
as the sense strand of the DNA.

The one thing that is true whether you call it sense or anti-sense is that
the strand of DNA that is transcribed is the template strand that codes
for an RNA that can be translated into protein.  The problem with calling
the sense strand the template strand is that during replication, both
strands are template strands.  In fact, even during transcription, both
strands can be used as template strands.

Personally, it makes more sense to me, 8-), to call the template strand
the sense strand since if you transcribed and translated the opposite
strand (the anti-sense strand), most of the time you would come up with a
peptide that doesn't make any sense (or do anything, although there are
exceptions to this).  Maybe that strand (the anti-sense strand) should be
called the non-sense strand,  but then we might get that confused with
nonsense mutations.  So maybe it should be called the not-sense strand. 
Maybe we should just call it the TOP strand, since convention dictates
that the strand that has the same sequence as the mRNA is always put on
top of published sequences. 8-)


> Dear Dr. Lasky:
> I found your comments really precious. Maybe it is high time that some=20
> sort of strict convention is negotiated between molecular geneticists=20
> because every textbook writer apparently feels entitled to devise its own=
> =20
> "intuitive"or "logical" rules. One can marvel at the multitude of=20
> conventions just by reading the comments by Tanaka & Macer (TIG=20
> 10:417,94) and Coddington or Sam (TIG 11:124,95). You learn that Lewin=20
> (Genes V) calls the 5'->3' strand "sense" while the template strand is=20
> now the antisense or noncoding.
> Maybe a teleconference held between the big textbook writers=20
> (Alberts,Darnell,Suzuki,Zubay, Mays,etc. etc) with the participation of=20
> some classical geneticists could settle the matter at the beginning of=20
> the postgenome era (Science, 20 Oct 95)...
> Happy Hollidays!
> =09=09=09=09Francisco
> F.G. Nobrega
> Universidade de S=E3o Paulo
> Biologia - IBUSP
> C.P.  11461
> 05422-970   S=E3o Paulo  -  SP  - Brasil
> Voice: (011) 818-7588   Fax: (011) 818-7553    E-mail:  fgdnobre at usp.br

Stephen R. Lasky Ph.D.   Brown U/Roger Williams Medical Center,  Providence, RI.   
Phone: 401-456-5672     Fax: 401-456-6569     e:mail: Stephen_Lasky at brown.edu
America may be unique in being a country which has leapt from barbarism to decadence without touching civilization.  John O'Hara.

More information about the Methods mailing list

Send comments to us at biosci-help [At] net.bio.net