What is a Gene?

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Before we get into the details of the various types of genes, we need to know what a gene actually is. A gene is a section of DNA that codes for a protein or RNA. It can also contain enhancer and silencer elements often located at great distances along the chromosome. Mutations within these regions are often as harmful as those that affect the mould.

RNA

The stem of RNA is a predicted flexible structure. Two internal bulges in an RNA stem allow it to display structural flexibility. As a result, the stem’s RNA sequence is not necessarily a perfect match for the specific gene it codes for. This flexibility is apparent in some RNA fragments resulting from cleavage at base-paired nucleotides.

RNA is used in several biological processes. For example, it can trigger chemical reactions and contain extra oxygen. It can also fold into complex shapes. On the other hand, DNA has a regular, stable shape called a double helix. This structure holds information securely and is largely responsible for the structure of proteins and DNA. However, DNA does very little else. Sidney Altman and Thomas Cech, two researchers who discovered the function of RNA in the body, shared the 1989 Nobel Prize for discovering its properties.

DNA

Defining DNA without considering its context, an organism or cell is difficult. A gene is only meaningful when specific interactions between DNA and context occur. In the case of a gene, this relationship is essential to the operation of the organism or cell. For example, a gene’s function is to control the activity of a certain enzyme.

Genes are organized into chromosomes, with more genes on the larger chromosomes. The chromosomes are like a fat book. The sections on the chromosomes correspond to the letters of the genetic code. For example, Chromosome 21 has 47 million base pairs and 578 genes. The smallest chromosome is Chromosome 1, which has 247 million base pairs.

Protein

In a cell, proteins are built from chains of amino acids and are regulated by a sequence of nucleotides called codons. Codons are sets of three nucleotides that correspond to a specific amino acid. This principle was first demonstrated in 1961, when two scientists, Crick and Brenner, discovered frameshift mutations in the IRB gene in bacteriophage T4. In this experiment, they showed that codons could control the expression of genes.

While most genes carry the information needed to make proteins, a few genes are responsible for producing regulatory molecules that help cells assemble proteins. This complex process takes place within the cell and is tightly controlled. It consists of two main steps: transcription and translation.

Polymorphic alleles

Polymorphisms in DNA are changes in the chromosomes and are often genetic markers for disease risk factors. For example, the gene for prion protein (PRPC) contains two alleles. Both alleles have different codons at position 129 and being homozygous for one increases the risk for prion disease. In contrast, heterozygosity increases resistance to prion disease. In fact, in one study of elderly women who survived the kuru epidemic, 76.7% were heterozygotes or homozygotes. Researchers compared the gene frequencies of this group with those of a population without morticians.

Polymorphism is a natural phenomenon. It arises when the frequency of a gene variation increases over time. Natural selection acts on genetic variation and creates a balanced population. In addition, polymorphism can indicate a new allele’s success. To be successful, a newly acquired allele must increase in frequency from low levels.

Molecular genetics

The basic concept of a gene is that it is a DNA segment that controls a molecule’s linear sequence. In biology, this can mean a protein or a DNA molecule. Molecular genetics is often applied to the structure of DNA, but the process of synthesis is also involved. It is important to distinguish between genes that code for polypeptides and genes that code for RNA molecules (rRNA).

The common definition of a gene is overly simplistic. It says that a sequence of nucleotides in DNA gets transcribed into messenger RNA, which is translated into an amino acid sequence. However, the real situation is much more complex and includes numerous mRNA molecules before producing a polypeptide.

Evolution of the concept of a gene

The concept of a gene has changed over time. The concept is based on the idea that genes are units of heredity. There are several evolutionary mechanisms involved in determining gene function and position. Among them are horizontal gene transfer and duplication. Another important mechanism is the emergence of a de novo gene.

A gene is a genetic code that determines the phenotype of an organism. It can be expressed in allele (A) and phenotype (B). The gene is deemed dominant if both alleles affect a person’s phenotype. However, in some cases, alleles are partially dominant or recessive.

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