Key Concepts Of Section 101

Molecular Definition of a Gene

■ In molecular terms, a gene is the entire DNA sequence required for synthesis of a functional protein or RNA molecule. In addition to the coding regions (exons), a gene includes control regions and sometimes introns.

■ Most bacterial and yeast genes lack introns, whereas most genes in multicellular organisms contain introns. The total length of intron sequences often is much longer than that of exon sequences.

■ A simple eukaryotic transcription unit produces a single monocistronic mRNA, which is translated into a single protein.

■ A complex eukaryotic transcription unit is transcribed into a primary transcript that can be processed into two or more different monocistronic mRNAs depending on the choice of splice sites or polyadenylation sites (see Figure 10-2b).

■ Many complex transcription units (e.g., the fibronectin gene) express one mRNA in one cell type and an alternative mRNA in a different cell type.

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