Difference Between Template and Coding Strand

Key Difference – Template vs Coding Strand

In many organisms, DNA acts as the information store, while RNA acts as the messenger. The process of the synthesis of RNA from DNA is known as transcription, which controls the gene expression and the production of proteins in many biological systems. In this process, two DNA strands are given specific names based on their involvement. Template strand is the DNA strand that acts as a template for RNA synthesis while the other strand is called coding strand. The key difference between these two strands is that template strand possesses the opposite base sequence of RNA while coding strand possesses the same base sequence of RNA (with the exception of thymine instead uracil). Not all DNA strands in a cell are transcribed into RNA. Transcription synthesizes all the types of RNA including mRNA, tRNA, rRNA, snRNA, miRNA and siRNA. There are few differences of RNA transcription among prokaryotes and eukaryotes. For example, in eukaryotes, transcription process is much more complicated than in prokaryotes due to the involvement of a large number of transcription factors. However, the objective of this article is to express the difference between template strand and coding strand.

What is Template Strand?

Template strand is the DNA strand, which acts as the template for the synthesis of RNA. RNA polymerase reads this strand from 3’ to 5.’Template strand does not involve in coding, therefore, referred to as non-coding strand. The nucleotide sequence of the template strand is complementary to the mRNA molecule and the coding strand.

Difference Between Template and Coding Strand

What is Coding Strand?

Coding strand determines the sequence of RNA strand. Coding strand has the same nucleotide sequence of RNA with the exception of Uracil instead of Thymine. Coding strand is also referred to as sense strand because it determines the RNA sequence that ultimately coded for a particular amino acid sequence of protein. This strand reads in the director from 5’ end to the 3’ end. 5’ end contains the phosphate group attached to 5’ carbon atom, whereas 3’ end has the phosphate group attached to 3’ carbon atom or hydroxyl group if is at the end of DNA chain.

Key Difference - Template vs Coding Strand

What is the difference between Template and Coding Strand?


Template Strand: Template strand act as the template for RNA synthesis.

Coding Strand: Coding strand has the same sequence of the newly synthesized RNA.

Other Names:

Template Strand: Template strand is also called antisense strand or [-] strand.

Coding Strand: Coding strand is known as sense strand, [+] or nontemplate strand.

Base Sequence:

Template Strand: Template strand is complementary to the RNA that is synthesized.

Coding Strand: RNA sequence is equal to the coding strand of DNA with the presence of Thymine instead of Uracil.


Image Courtesy:

1. Mrna Trans2 By Boumphreyfr (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via via Wikimedia Commons

2. DNA replication split By I, Madprime, [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons