mRNA is a natural component of our cells that plays a very specific role in the human body.
To put it simply, each natural mRNA in our bodies is a blueprint of a certain section of our genome. They are used as a mobile copy of the instructions for building proteins and transport these blueprints from the nucleus of each cell to the protein factories (ribosomes) of the cell.
The process in detail:
Most of the cells in our body have a nucleus where our deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is located. DNA contains all the information needed for the structure and function of our body, including the instructions for building proteins. However, in order for proteins to be produced, the information in the DNA needs to be converted into a mobile version of the instructions, which is called mRNA. Proteins play many roles in the body. One of their functions is to help produce new cells. Muscles, bones, and hair are mostly made of protein.
Our body use the following steps to produce proteins:
The mRNA vaccine provides the body with a blueprint for creating a specific non-infectious viral protein.
This protein is located on the surface of the novel coronavirus and is called the spike protein due to its appearance.
In other words, the vaccine does not contain the protein itself. Instead, the protein is produced by the body’s own cells after vaccination. This process triggers the immune system to develop an immune response. The immune system produces memory cells and antibodies against the viral protein, and thus against SARS-CoV-2 itself.
The viral protein produced by the body is not infectious. However, the protein is a characteristic feature of SARS-CoV-2. Therefore, the presence of just this fragment of the viral surface is enough for the vaccine to activate the immune system and establish protection against COVID-19.
Natural and synthetic mRNA are produced at different locations. However, both forms of mRNA are used to provide the information needed to build a certain protein.
|Natural mRNA||Vaccine mRNA|
|Production||Created naturally from the DNA in the nucleus||Created synthetically in the lab by copying a DNA template|
|Transport||From the nucleus into the cytoplasm of the cell||Crosses from outside the cell into the cytoplasm after vaccination without entering the nucleus|
|Function||Protein blueprint that is read by ribosomes||Protein blueprint that is read by ribosomes|
|Helping the ribosome build the protein according to the blueprint, followed by destruction of the mRNA||Helping the ribosome build the protein according to the blueprint, followed by destruction of the mRNA|