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

How the bumble bee got its stripes

Researchers have discovered a gene that drives color differences within a species of bumble bees. This discovery helps to explain the highly diverse color patterns among bumble bee species as well as how mimicry—individuals ...

Researchers create most complete model of complex protein machinery

Environmental conditions, lifestyle choices, chemical exposure, and foodborne and airborne pathogens are among the external factors that can cause disease. In contrast, internal genetic factors can be responsible for the ...

Cryptic mutation is cautionary tale for crop gene editing

Even in this "age of the genome," much about genes remains shrouded in mystery. This is especially true for "cryptic mutations"—mutated genes that are hidden, and have unexpected effects on traits that are only revealed ...

Life in evolution's fast lane

Most living things have a suite of genes dedicated to repairing their DNA, limiting the rate at which their genomes change through time. But scientists at Vanderbilt and University of Wisconsin-Madison have discovered an ...

A 'crisper' method for gene editing in fungi

CRISPR/Cas9 is now a household name associated with genetic engineering studies. Through cutting-edge research described in their paper published in Scientific Reports, a team of researchers from Tokyo University of Science, ...

Scientists create new genomic resource for improving tomatoes

Tomato breeders have traditionally emphasized traits that improve production, like larger fruits and more fruits per plant. As a result, some traits that improved other important qualities, such as flavor and disease resistance, ...

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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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