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Just a simple, quick question: how are the mRNA and the template strand of the DNA structured during transcription? I've seen models and videos of them when they're both flat/straight (is that just for simplicity?) and others where they're spiralling around each other. Could someone just briefly shed some light on my situation please?

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Transcription occurs in a special structure known as transcription bubble. Inside the bubble are present the mRNA, template DNA being transcribed and the RNA Polymerase. Upstream of bubble is the DNA already transcribed and downstream is the DNA to be transcribed. There is not enough space in cell to have completely unfolded DNA for transcription, so transcribed DNA has to be re-annealed as soon as it is transcribed, giving a bubble-like appearance to the RNA polymerase-bound DNA. Hence it is called a transcription bubble. See this image for illustration:

transcription bubble Source

The mRNA formed quickly leaves the bubble and hangs behind like a thread coming from RNA polymerase.

bubble real Source

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    $\begingroup$ Cheers, is that RNA polymerase enzyme below? Why are there so many sections to it? All it does is separate the DNA strands and form an RNA strand, why would it need so many sections... $\endgroup$ – Lucas Dyson-Diaz Jan 5 '17 at 11:08
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    $\begingroup$ I did not explain it because it was not related to your question. RNA polymerase has many subunits which all come together to become the fully functional enzyme. It actually does much more than separating DNA strands from RNA strand. :) $\endgroup$ – another 'Homo sapien' Jan 5 '17 at 12:04

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