Chapter 17 - CHAPTER 17 - FROM GENE TO PROTEIN Introduction...

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CHAPTER 17 - FROM GENE TO PROTEIN Introduction The information content of DNA is in the form of specific sequences of nucleotides along the DNA strands. The DNA inherited by an organism leads to specific traits by dictating the synthesis of proteins. Proteins are the links between genotype and phenotype. For example, Mendel’s dwarf pea plants lack a functioning copy of the gene that specifies the synthesis of a key protein, gibberellins. Gibberellins stimulate the normal elongation of stems. A. The Connection Between Genes and Proteins 1. The study of metabolic defects provided evidence that genes specify proteins In 1909, Archibald Gerrod was the first to suggest that genes dictate phenotype through enzymes that catalyze specific chemical reactions in the cell. The symptoms of an inherited disease reflect a person’s inability to synthesize a particular enzyme. Gerrod speculated that alkaptonuria, a hereditary disease, was caused by the absence of an enzyme that breaks down a specific substrate, alkapton. Research conducted several decades later supported Gerrod’s hypothesis. Progress in linking genes and enzymes rested on the growing understanding that cells synthesize and degrade most organic molecules in a series of steps, a metabolic pathway. In the 1930s, George Beadle and Boris Ephrussi speculated that each mutation affecting eye color in Drosophila blocks pigment synthesis at a specific step by preventing production of the enzyme that catalyzes that step. However, neither the chemical reactions nor the enzymes were known at the time. Beadle and Edward Tatum were finally able to establish the link between genes and enzymes in their exploration of the metabolism of a bread mold, Neurospora crassa . They mutated Neurospora with X-rays and screened the survivors for mutants that differed in their nutritional needs. Wild-type Neurospora can grow on a minimal medium of agar, inorganic salts, glucose, and the vitamin biotin. Most nutritional mutants can survive on a complete growth medium that includes all 20 amino acids. One type of mutant required only the addition of arginine to the minimal growth medium. Beadle and Tatum concluded that this mutant was defective somewhere in the biochemical pathway that normally synthesizes arginine. They identified three classes of arginine-deficient mutants, each apparently lacking a key enzyme at a different step in the synthesis of arginine. They demonstrated this by growing these mutant strains in media that provided different intermediate molecules. Their results provided strong evidence for the one gene - one enzyme hypothesis. Later research refined the one gene - one enzyme hypothesis.
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This note was uploaded on 12/14/2009 for the course BIOCHEM bIO taught by Professor Professor during the Spring '09 term at École Normale Supérieure.

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Chapter 17 - CHAPTER 17 - FROM GENE TO PROTEIN Introduction...

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