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

A reliable clock for your microbiome

For all the attention the human microbiome has been getting over the last few years, one aspect of such research rarely makes headlines: the difficulty of observing how it changes over time in response to various stimuli. ...

Researchers discover how chlamydia takes up new DNA from host

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chlamydia trachomatis is the most commonly reported sexually transmitted bacterial disease in the U.S., totaling 1.7 million cases in 2017. Rates are highest among ...

Buttons and flies help biologists solve longtime DNA mystery

Biologists at Johns Hopkins University have uncovered an important clue in the longtime mystery of how long strands of DNA fold up to squeeze into microscopic cells, with each pair of chromosomes aligned to ensure perfect ...

How chromosomes change their shape during cell differentiation

The human genome is made up of 46 chromosomes, each of which has a length of about 100 to 200 million base pairs, the building blocks of the DNA double helix. Even during interphase, the period in between the cell division ...

Histone modifications are the influencers of zygotic genome awakening

The zebrafish is an important model organism in biology. Humans and zebrafish share 70 percent of their genes, and more than 80 percent of human genes associated with disease are known to have a zebrafish counterpart. Additionally, ...

Cheap as chips: identifying plant genes to ensure food security

An international team of scientists led by the University of Goettingen has developed a new approach that enables researchers to more efficiently identify the genes that control plant traits. This method will enable plant ...

The cholera bacterium can steal up to 150 genes in one go

EPFL scientists have discovered that predatory bacteria like the cholera pathogen can steal up to 150 genes in one go from their neighbors. The study sheds light on one of the most fundamental mechanisms of horizontal gene ...

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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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