Genetics

Silencing a faulty gene may uncover clues to rare forms of ALS

Using an experimental drug, researchers have been able to suppress a mutated amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) gene. Studies in mice demonstrate that the therapy could show promise in treating rare, aggressive forms of ...

Medical research

International team advances research on muscle health

An international team, led by University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine researchers, has published findings that could contribute to future therapeutics for muscle degeneration due to old age, and diseases such as cancer and ...

Medical research

Calcium: Important not just for your bones but also for your heart

Researchers from Osaka University found a previously unknown gene mutation that can cause an incurable heart condition called dilated cardiomyopathy. This gene, BAC5, is important for the movement of calcium ions in the heart ...

Oncology & Cancer

Molecular details of a dangerous form of liver cancer

In a recent article published in Hepatology, a group led by researchers at Osaka University investigated the molecular mechanisms that drive development of Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ICC)—a cancer which develops in ...

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

Partial bone marrow transplant 'rescues' mice with cystic fibrosis

Scientists at La Jolla Institute for Immunology (LJI) have found they can dramatically improve survival of mice with cystic fibrosis through a partial bone marrow transplant. Their new study in the Journal of Immunology shows ...

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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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