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THE GENE. What information does the gene possess?. The genetic approach. Before the discovery of the importance of DNA geneticists managed to determine what information is represented in the gene. Image Credits: Nobelprize.org. Neurospora crassa. Beedle and Tatum (1940) .

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  1. THE GENE What information does the gene possess?

  2. The genetic approach Before the discovery of the importance of DNA geneticists managed to determine what information is represented in the gene Image Credits: Nobelprize.org

  3. Neurospora crassa Beedle and Tatum (1940) The red bread mould Neurospora crassa • This mould is haploid so all the genes are expressed • Different individuals can be separated because the spores form in long thin “pods” called ascs • Its requirements are simple • It grows quickly and produces results in a few days Image Credits: University of Edinburgh, School of Biological Sciences

  4. Wild type feeds on minimal medium • (nitrates, sulphate, phosphate other inorganic salts, sugar and biotin) Synthesis of enzymes Genes ? 20 amino acids 9 vitamins other organic compounds © 2010 Paul Billiet ODWS

  5. Producing mutant strains Alter the genes by mutation and you will alter the dietary requirements Wild type mould • Mutagens • (ionising radiation) Separate spores Which ones are mutant moulds? © 2010 Paul Billiet ODWS

  6. Finding the mutants Mutant moulds? Grow up on complete medium = Minimal medium PLUS Selectfor deficient strains which will grow on minimal medium plus ONE supplementary nutrient © 2010 Paul Billiet ODWS

  7. Cross breeding strains Deficient strain (n) X Wild type (n) Fusion Zygospore (2n) Meiosis I and II 4 haploid nuclei Mitosis 8 haploid spores Separate spores and grow on complete medium Screen for nutrient requirements © 2010 Paul Billiet ODWS

  8. Image Credit: Neurospora ascs containing haploid spores Mutant alleles are fluorescing

  9. Results • Four of the daughter spores gave rise to colonies that are like the deficient parent and four give colonies that are like the wild type parent • The condition is hereditary • It is caused by the mutation of a single gene © 2010 Paul Billiet ODWS

  10. Conclusion • Enzymes are needed by this mould to synthesise vitamins and amino acids • The production of these compounds is affected by mutation (damaged genetic material) • The inheritance pattern of these defective enzymes is the same as that of single genes Therefore ONE GENE corresponds to ONE ENZYME © 2010 Paul Billiet ODWS

  11. Generalising • Enzymes are all proteins…. • but not all proteins are enzymes • Proteins are all affected by mutations in the same way Therefore ONE GENE corresponds to ONE PROTEIN © 2010 Paul Billiet ODWS

  12. More precisely…. • Some proteins are made of subunits (quaternary structure)e.g. Haemoglobin = 4 subunits (2x α and 2 x β) • Each subunit is independently affected by mutations Therefore ONE GENE corresponds to ONE POLYPEPTIDE © 2010 Paul Billiet ODWS

  13. That’s not all… • The hypothesis was established by 1962 there was still another refinement when gene expression was worked out • Genes are transcribed to make RNA molecules • mRNA molecules are translated into polypeptides but… • not all RNA is mRNA, genes are also transcribed into tRNA molecules and rRNA molecules • tRNA and rRNA is not translated (though they are used in the translation process) So a gene is does not necessarily correspond to a polypeptide at all © 2010 Paul Billiet ODWS

  14. It gets better (or worse!)… • Immunoglobulins (antibodies) are made of polypeptides with two domains (constant C and variable V) • It seems two genes are needed to construct the polypeptide of an immunoglobulin, one for each domain • The gene for the variable part is transcribed as pre-RNA • This pre-RNA is then spliced in different places by snRNPs to take out introns • Different introns can be cut out to make different immunoglobulins from the same pre-RNA (alternative splicing) So a single gene can code for more than one protein © 2010 Paul Billiet ODWS

  15. So what is a gene? • It contains information • That may code for a protein • Or part of protein • Or more than one protein • Or RNA that does not translate into a protein • The smallest physical unit of heredity encoding a molecular cell product(Penguin Dictionary of Biology). © 2010 Paul Billiet ODWS

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