Genes encode proteins and proteins dictate cell function. Therefore, the thousands of genes expressed in a particular cell determine what that cell can do. Moreover, each step in the flow of information from DNA to RNA to protein provides the cell with a potential control point for self-regulating its functions by adjusting the amount and type of proteins it manufactures.
At any given time, the amount of a particular protein in a cell reflects the balance between that protein’s synthetic and degradative biochemical pathways. On the synthetic side of this balance, recall that protein production starts at transcription (DNA to RNA) and continues with translation (RNA to protein). Thus, control of these processes plays a critical role in determining what proteins are present in a cell and in what amounts. In addition, the way in which a cell processes its RNA transcripts and newly made proteins also greatly influences protein levels.