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What is “transcribed strand”

What is “transcribed strand”


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This is an excerpt from a paper:

T>C mutations at NpTpN trinucleotides, also found in hepatocellular carcinomas, shows strong transcriptional strand bias with more T>C mutations on the transcribed than untranscribed strands

What exactly is meant by "transcribed" strand: the sense strand or the template strand ?

I tried looking up for it but couldn't find any definition.


In my opinion they should mean the template strand, and they probably do. Perhaps if we had a link to the paper we could have examined the language more closely.

Here is a paper which uses the term in that sense:

Mugal, CF et al. (2008) Transcription-Induced Mutational Strand Bias and Its Effect on Substitution Rates in Human Genes. Molecular Biology and Evolution 26,131-142

In the abstract (which I have linked to) the authors make a clear reference to the transcribed strand in contrast to the coding strand (i.e. the strand of DNA with the same sequence as the RNA transcript):

All three [mutational rates] considered are found to be on average higher on the coding strand and lower on the transcribed strand…

There are also definitions confirming this at this Wikipedia page.


Remember that DNA is double stranded and each strand has a chemical direction. Genes are read by the ribosome in the 3' to 5' direction so that the DNA 'forward' direction is defined in this direction. This is the direction of transcription.

Each segment of DNA can therefore be read in 2 directions. In the direction of transcription each T will have an A on the other strand. So each letter in the direction of transcription will not be the same if you read the other strand.

Transcription (that which is transcribed) refers to the ribosomal read strand.

Hope this helps.