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

Flies smell through a Gore-Tex system

A research group led by a scientist of the RIKEN Center for Biosystems Dynamics Research (BDR) has gained important insights into the nanopores that allow the fruit fly to detect chemicals in the air, and has identified the ...

Turning an old enemy into a helpful friend

Half our genome is basically foreign, derived from viruses. Obviously, the invasion of such foreign elements can deregulate critical biological processes, and lead to disease. This is why animals, including humans have evolved ...

A biosynthetic dual-core cell computer

ETH researchers have integrated two CRISPR-Cas9-based core processors into human cells. This represents a huge step towards creating powerful biocomputers.

In mice, feeding time influences the liver's biological clock

The timing of food intake is a major factor driving the rhythmic expression of most genes in the mouse liver, researchers report April 16th in the journal Cell Reports. The findings demonstrate that body-wide signals driven ...

Pollen genes mutate naturally in only some strains of corn

Pollen genes mutate naturally in only some strains of corn, according to Rutgers-led research that helps explain the genetic instability in certain strains and may lead to better breeding of corn and other crops.

What makes a jellyfish?

Translucent jellyfish, colorful corals and waving sea anemones have very different bodies but all fall on the same big branch in the animal family tree. Jellyfish actually start out anchored to the sea floor, just like corals ...

Turning silenced cancer genes back into fighters

Working with human colon cancer cells and mice, researchers led by experts at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center say they have successfully blocked the activity of portions of a protein known as UHRF1 and restored the ...

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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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