Gene


Gene
/jeen/, n.
a male given name, form of Eugene.

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I
Unit of heredity that occupies a fixed position on a chromosome.

Genes achieve their effects by directing protein synthesis. They are composed of DNA, except in some viruses that contain RNA instead. The sequence of nitrogenous bases along a strand of DNA determines the genetic code. When the product of a particular gene is needed, the portion of the DNA molecule that contains that gene splits, and a complementary strand of RNA, called messenger RNA (mRNA), forms and then passes to ribosomes, where proteins are synthesized. A second type of RNA, transfer RNA (tRNA), matches up the mRNA with specific amino acids, which combine in series to form polypeptide chains, the building blocks of proteins. Experiments have shown that many of the genes within a cell are inactive much or even all of the time, but they can be switched on and off. Mutations occur when the number or order of bases in a gene is disrupted. See also genetic engineering, genetics, Hardy-Weinberg law, Human Genome Project, linkage group.
II
(as used in expressions)
Autry Orvon Gene
gene transfer therapy
Hackman Gene
Kelly Gene
Krupa Gene
Roddenberry Gene
Sarazen Gene
Tunney Gene

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      unit of hereditary information that occupies a fixed position (locus) on a chromosome. Genes achieve their effects by directing the synthesis of proteins.

      Genes are composed of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) (DNA), except in some viruses, which have genes consisting of a closely related compound called ribonucleic acid (RNA) (RNA). A DNA molecule is composed of two chains of nucleotides (nucleotide) that wind about each other to resemble a twisted ladder. The sides of the ladder are made up of sugars and phosphates; the rungs are formed by bonded pairs of nitrogenous bases. These bases are adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C), and thymine (T). An A on one chain bonds to a T on the other (thus forming an A–T ladder rung); similarly, a C on one chain bonds to a G on the other. If the bonds between the bases are broken, the two chains unwind, and free nucleotides within the cell attach themselves to the exposed bases of the now-separated chains. The free nucleotides line up along each chain according to the base-pairing rule—A bonds to T, C bonds to G. This process results in the creation of two identical DNA molecules from one original and is the method by which hereditary information is passed from one generation of cells to the next.

      The sequence of bases along a strand of DNA determines the genetic code. When the product of a particular gene is needed, the portion of the DNA molecule that contains that gene will split. A strand of RNA with bases complementary to those of the gene is created from the free nucleotides in the cell. (RNA has the base uracil [U] instead of thymine, so A and U form base pairs during RNA synthesis.) This single chain of RNA, called messenger RNA (mRNA), then passes to the organelles called ribosomes, where protein synthesis takes place. A second type of RNA, transfer RNA (tRNA), matches up the nucleotides on mRNA with specific amino acids. Each set of three nucleotides codes for one amino acid. The series of amino acids built according to the sequence of nucleotides forms a polypeptide chain; all proteins are made from one or more linked polypeptide chains.

      Experiments indicate that one gene is responsible for the assembly of one polypeptide chain. This is known as the one-gene–one-polypeptide hypothesis.

      Other experiments have shown that many of the genes within a cell are inactive much or even all of the time. Thus, at any time, it seems that a gene can be switched on or off. The process by which genes are activated and deactivated in bacteria has been determined. Bacteria actually have three types of genes: structural, operator, and regulator. Structural genes code for the synthesis of specific polypeptides. Operator genes contain the code necessary to begin the process of transcribing the DNA message of one or more structural genes into mRNA. Thus, structural genes are linked to an operator gene in a functional unit called an operon. Ultimately, the activity of the operon is controlled by a regulator gene, which produces a small protein molecule called a repressor. The repressor binds to the operator gene and prevents it from initiating the synthesis of the protein called for by the operon. The presence or absence of certain repressor molecules determines whether the operon is off or on. As mentioned, this model applies to bacteria. Gene regulation in higher organisms is less clearly understood.

      Mutations occur when the number or order of bases in a gene is disrupted. Nucleotides can be deleted, doubled, rearranged, or replaced, with each alteration having a particular effect. The mutation generally has little or no effect; when it does alter an organism, the change is frequently lethal. A beneficial mutation will rise in frequency within a population until it becomes the norm.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • gène — [ ʒɛn ] n. m. • 1911; d ab. all., puis angl. gene, du gr.→ gène ♦ Biol. Unité définie localisée sur un chromosome (⇒ locus), responsable de la production des caractères héréditaires et des protéines. ⇒ génotype, phénotype. Gène dominant, récessif …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • gêne — gène [ ʒɛn ] n. m. • 1911; d ab. all., puis angl. gene, du gr.→ gène ♦ Biol. Unité définie localisée sur un chromosome (⇒ locus), responsable de la production des caractères héréditaires et des protéines. ⇒ génotype, phénotype. Gène dominant,… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

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  • -gène — ♦ Élément, du gr. genês, de genos « naissance, origine » : thermogène. gène élément, du gr. genês, de genos, naissance, origine . ⇒ GÈNE, élém. formant Élément tiré du radical du verbe grec « engendrer », formateur de nombreux dérivés subst. masc …   Encyclopédie Universelle


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