Show Advanced Search

REFINE YOUR SEARCH:

Containing Text
- - -
+
Filter by author or institution
GO
Filter by publication date
From:
October, 2006
Until:
Today
Filter by journal section

Filter by science education

 
 
Histones: Small chromosomal proteins (approx 12-20 kD) possessing an open, unfolded structure and attached to the DNA in cell nuclei by ionic linkages. Classification into the various types (designated histone I, histone Ii, etc.) is based on the relative amounts of arginine and lysine in each.

Organization of Genes

JoVE 10786

The genomes of eukaryotes can be structured in several functional categories. A strand of DNA is comprised of genes and intergenic regions. Genes themselves consist of protein-coding exons and non-coding introns. Introns are excised once the sequence is transcribed to mRNA, leaving only exons to code for proteins.

In eukaryotic genomes, genes are separated by large stretches of DNA that do not code for proteins. However, these intergenic regions carry important elements that regulate gene activity, for instance, the promoter where transcription starts, and enhancers and silencers that fine-tune gene expression. Sometimes these binding sites can be located far away from the associated gene. As researchers investigated the process of gene transcription in eukaryotes, they realized that the final mRNA that codes for a protein is shorter than the DNA it is derived from. This difference in length is due to a process called splicing. Once pre-mRNA has been transcribed from DNA in the nucleus, splicing immediately removes introns and joins exons together. The result is protein-coding mRNA that moves to the cytoplasm and is translated into protein. One of the largest human genes, DMD, is over two million base pairs long. This gene encodes the muscle protein dystrophin. Mutations in DMD cause muscular dystrophy, a disorder characteri

 Core: Biology

DNA Packaging

JoVE 10785

Eukaryotes have large genomes compared to prokaryotes. In order to fit their genomes into a cell, eukaryotes must pack their DNA tightly inside the nucleus. To do so, DNA is wound around proteins called histones to form nucleosomes, the main unit of DNA packaging. Nucleosomes then coil into compact fibers known as chromatin.

Most cells in the human body contain about 3 billion base pairs of DNA packaged into 23 pairs of chromosomes. It is hard to imagine exactly how much DNA these numbers represent. So how much packing has to happen to fit the genome into a cell? We can gain some insight by expressing the genome in terms of length. If we were to arrange the DNA of a single human cell, like a skin cell, into a straight line, it would be two meters long–over 6.5 feet. The human body contains around 50 trillion human cells. This means that each person has a total of about 100 trillion meters of DNA. In other words, each person has enough DNA to stretch from the Earth to the Sun 300 times! And humans do not have particularly large genomes–those of many fish, amphibians, and flowering plants are much larger. For example, the genome of the flowering plant Paris japonica is 25 times larger than the human diploid genome. These figures emphasize the astonishing task that eukaryotes must accomplish to pack their DNA inside cells.

 Core: Biology

What is Gene Expression?

JoVE 10797

Gene expression is the process in which DNA directs the synthesis of functional products, such as proteins. Cells can regulate gene expression at various stages. It allows organisms to generate different cell types and enables cells to adapt to internal and external factors.

A gene is a stretch of DNA that serves as the blueprint for functional RNAs and proteins. Since DNA is made up of nucleotides and proteins consist of amino acids, a mediator is required to convert the information that is encoded in DNA into proteins. This mediator is the messenger RNA (mRNA). mRNA copies the blueprint from DNA by a process called transcription. In eukaryotes, transcription takes place in the nucleus by complementary base-pairing with the DNA template. The mRNA is then processed and transported into the cytoplasm where it serves as a template for protein synthesis during translation. In prokaryotes, which lack a nucleus, the processes of transcription and translation occur at the same location and almost simultaneously since the newly-formed mRNA is susceptible to rapid degradation. Every cell of an organism contains the same DNA, and consequently the same set of genes. However, not all genes in a cell are “turned on” or use to synthesize proteins. A gene is said to be “expressed” when the protein it encodes is produced by the cell. Gen

 Core: Biology

Genomic DNA in Eukaryotes

JoVE 10760

Eukaryotes have large genomes compared to prokaryotes. To fit their genomes into a cell, eukaryotic DNA is packaged extraordinarily tightly inside the nucleus. To achieve this, DNA is tightly wound around proteins called histones, which are packaged into nucleosomes that are joined by linker DNA and coil into chromatin fibers. Additional fibrous proteins further compact the chromatin, which is recognizable as chromosomes during certain phases of cell division. Most cells in the human body contain about 6 billion base pairs of DNA packaged into 23 pairs of chromosomes. It is hard to imagine exactly how much DNA these numbers represent, and therefore it is difficult to grasp how densely packed DNA must be to fit into a cell. We can gain some insight by expressing the genome in terms of length. If we were to arrange the DNA of a single diploid cell into a straight line, it would be about two meters long! Note that humans do not have unusually large genomes. Many fish, amphibians, and flowering plants have much larger genomes than humans. For example, the haploid genome of the Japanese flowering plant Paris japonica contains about 50 times more DNA than the human haploid genome. These figures emphasize the astonishing work that histones and other chromatin remodeling proteins must do to package DNA.

 Core: Biology
12345
More Results...