Related topics: genome · protein · cells · mutations · gene expression

Birds take tRNA efficiency to new heights

Birds have been shaped by evolution in many ways that have made them distinct from their vertebrate cousins. Over millions of years of evolution, our feathered friends have taken to the skies, accompanied by unique changes ...

New method of artificially creating genetic switches for yeast

A group of researchers from Kobe University and Chiba University has successfully developed a flexible and simple method of artificially producing genetic switches for yeast, a model eukaryotic organism. The group consisted ...

DNA structure itself is involved in genome regulation

The (when stretched) two-meter-long DNA molecule in each human cell is continuously being unpacked and packed again to enable the expression of genetic information. When genes must be accessed for transcription, the DNA double ...

Scaling up genome editing in tiny worms

Understanding the effects of specific mutations in gene regulatory regions—the sections of DNA and RNA that turn genes on and off—is important to unraveling how the genome works, as well as normal development and disease. ...

Understudied mutations have big impact on gene expression

An international team of researchers led by computer scientists at the University of California San Diego have identified 163 variable number tandem repeats (VNTRs) that actively regulate gene expression. In a paper published ...

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Gene

A gene is the basic unit of heredity in a living organism. All living things depend on genes. Genes hold the information to build and maintain their cells and pass genetic traits to offspring. A modern working definition of a gene is "a locatable region of genomic sequence, corresponding to a unit of inheritance, which is associated with regulatory regions, transcribed regions, and or other functional sequence regions " . In common usage, the term gene often refers to what is known more accurately as an allele.

The notion of a gene has evolved with the science of genetics, which began when Gregor Mendel noticed that biological variations are inherited from parent organisms as specific, discrete traits. The biological entity responsible for defining traits was termed a gene, but the biological basis for inheritance remained unknown until DNA was identified as the genetic material in the 1940s. All organisms have many genes corresponding to many different biological traits, some of which are immediately visible, such as eye color or number of limbs, and some of which are not, such as blood type or increased risk for specific diseases, or the thousands of basic biochemical processes that comprise life.

In cells, a gene is a portion of DNA that contains both "coding" sequences that determine what the gene does, and "non-coding" sequences that determine when the gene is active (expressed). When a gene is active, the coding and non-coding sequences are copied in a process called transcription, producing an RNA copy of the gene's information. This piece of RNA can then direct the synthesis of proteins via the genetic code. In other cases, the RNA is used directly, for example as part of the ribosome. The molecules resulting from gene expression, whether RNA or protein, are known as gene products, and are responsible for the development and functioning of all living things.

In more technical terms, a gene is a locatable region of genomic sequence, corresponding to a unit of inheritance, and is associated with regulatory regions, transcribed regions and/or other functional sequence regions. The physical development and phenotype of organisms can be thought of as a product of genes interacting with each other and with the environment. A concise definition of a gene, taking into account complex patterns of regulation and transcription, genic conservation and non-coding RNA genes, has been proposed by Gerstein et al.: "A gene is a union of genomic sequences encoding a coherent set of potentially overlapping functional products".

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