Hypermedia Glossary Of Genetic Terms
|Gene||The term coined by Johannsen (1909) for the fundamental physical and functional unit of heredity. The word gene was derived from De Vries' term pangen, itself a derivative of the word pangenesis which Darwin (1868) had coined. A gene is an ordered sequence of nucleotides located in a particular position (locus) on a particular chromosome that encodes a specific functional product (the gene product, i.e. a protein or RNA molecule). It includes regions involved in regulation of expression and regions that code for a specific functional product. See gene expression, allele.|
|Nucleotide||A subunit of DNA or RNA consisting of a nitrogenous base (purine in adenine and guanine, pyrimidine in thymine, or cytosine for DNA and uracil cytosine for RNA), a phosphate molecule, and a sugar molecule (deoxyribose in DNA and ribose in RNA). Depending on the sugar the nucleotides are called deoxyribonucleotides or ribonucleotides. Thousands of nucleotides are linked to form a DNA or RNA molecule. See also base pair.|
|Locus||The position of a gene on a chromosome or other chromosome markers; also, the DNA at that position. The use of the term locus is sometimes restricted to main regions of DNA that are expressed. Plural: loci. See gene expression.|
|Chromosome||The term was proposed by Waldeyer (1888) for the individual threads within a cell nucleus (gk. chroma, colour; soma, body). The self-replicating genetic structures of cells containing the cellular DNA that bears in its nucleotide sequence the linear array of genes. In prokaryotes, chromosomal DNA is circular, and the entire genome is carried on one chromosome. Eukaryotic genomes consist of a number of chromosomes whose DNA is associated with different kinds of proteins.|
|Gene product||The biochemical material, either RNA or protein, resulting from expression of a gene. The amount of gene product is used to measure how active a gene is; abnormal amounts can be correlated with disease-causing alleles.|
|Protein||A large molecule composed of one or more chains of amino acids in a specific order; the order is determined by the base sequence of nucleotides in the gene coding for the protein. Proteins are required for the structure, function, and regulation of the bodys cells, tissues, and organs, and each protein has unique functions. Examples are hormones, enzymes, and antibodies.|
|Ribonucleic acid (RNA)||A chemical found in the nucleus and cytoplasm of cells; it plays an important role in protein synthesis and other chemical activities of the cell. The structure of RNA is similar to that of DNA. There are several classes of RNA molecules, including messenger RNA, transfer RNA, ribosomal RNA, and other small RNAs, each serving a different purpose.|
|Gene expression||The process by which a gene's coded information is converted into the structures present and operating in the cell. Expressed genes include those that are transcribed into mRNA and then translated into protein and those that are transcribed into RNA but not translated into protein (e.g., transfer and ribosomal RNAs).
The degree of expression is called expressivity.
|Allele||The term coined by Bateson and Saunders (1902) for characters which are alternative to one another in Mendelian inheritance (Gk. Allelon, one another; morphe, form).
Now the term allele is used for two or more alternative forms of a gene resulting in different gene products and thus different phenotypes. In a haploid set of chromosomes there is only one allele at its specific locus. Diploid organisms have 2 alleles at a given locus, i.e. a normal and a mutant allele. A single allele for each gene locus is inherited separately from each parent (e.g., at a locus for eye colour the allele might result in blue or brown eyes). An organism is homozygous for a gene if the alleles are identical, and heterozygous if they are different.
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