Related topics: genes

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A Rutgers-led team has created better biosensor technology that may help lead to safe stem cell therapies for treating Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases and other neurological disorders.

Researchers lay out first genetic history of Rome

Scholars have been studying Rome for hundreds of years, but it still holds some secrets—for instance, relatively little is known about the ancestral origins of the city's denizens. Now, an international team led by researchers ...

Faster heartbeat helps deer mice to survive at high altitudes

Mice living at high altitudes in the American West carry a genetic variant that increases their heart rate, helping them cope with the low oxygen levels that occur at high elevations. Rena Schweizer of the University of Montana ...

Team solves structure of key mTORC1 activator

A research team led by scientists at the Whitehead Institute has described the structure of a key protein complex that helps activate mTORC1, a master growth regulator that enables cells to quickly respond to changing nutrient ...

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Genetics

Genetics (from Ancient Greek γενετικός genetikos, “genitive” and that from γένεσις genesis, “origin”), a discipline of biology, is the science of heredity and variation in living organisms. The fact that living things inherit traits from their parents has been used since prehistoric times to improve crop plants and animals through selective breeding. However, the modern science of genetics, which seeks to understand the process of inheritance, only began with the work of Gregor Mendel in the mid-nineteenth century. Although he did not know the physical basis for heredity, Mendel observed that organisms inherit traits via discrete units of inheritance, which are now called genes.

Genes correspond to regions within DNA, a molecule composed of a chain of four different types of nucleotides—the sequence of these nucleotides is the genetic information organisms inherit. DNA naturally occurs in a double stranded form, with nucleotides on each strand complementary to each other. Each strand can act as a template for creating a new partner strand—this is the physical method for making copies of genes that can be inherited.

The sequence of nucleotides in a gene is translated by cells to produce a chain of amino acids, creating proteins—the order of amino acids in a protein corresponds to the order of nucleotides in the gene. This relationship between nucleotide sequence and amino acid sequence is known as the genetic code. The amino acids in a protein determine how it folds into a three-dimensional shape; this structure is, in turn, responsible for the protein's function. Proteins carry out almost all the functions needed for cells to live. A change to the DNA in a gene can change a protein's amino acids, changing its shape and function: this can have a dramatic effect in the cell and on the organism as a whole. Two additional factors that can change the shape of the protein are pH and temperature.

Although genetics plays a large role in the appearance and behavior of organisms, it is the combination of genetics with what an organism experiences that determines the ultimate outcome. For example, while genes play a role in determining an organism's size, the nutrition and other conditions it experiences after inception also have a large effect.

This text uses material from Wikipedia, licensed under CC BY-SA