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Appendix I: Glossary

The following glossary explains basic genetic terms frequently used in this report. Other expressions are explained where first mentioned in the text.

From genes to proteins

A sequence of three nucleotides (see DNA) which code for an amino acid. For example, the nucleotide sequence cytosine-adenine-guanine in mRNA codes for the amino acid glutamine.

see "Expression"

Abbreviation for deoxyribonucleic acid. DNA is a genetic material of cells. In higher orgnisms (e.g. animals and plants) is found in the nucleus of the cells. DNA is a large linear molecule made up of the four nucleotides adenine (A), thymine (T), guanine (G) and cytosine (C) connected by a phosphate-deoxribose backbone. In most organisms, DNA is found as double-stranded, helical molecules called chromosomes. The two strands of a chromosome associate with one another by hydrogen bonds which form between the nucleotides of one strand and the nucleotides of the other: adenine pairs with thymine and guanine with cytosine (compare figure G.1).

Fig. G.1: From genes to proteins: A chromosome consists of two DNA molecules which are connected by paired nucleotides (A). A gene on one of these strands is transribed into messenger RNA (mRNA) (B). The mRNA is then translated into a protein with the help transfer RNAs (tRNA) which carry different amino acids (C).

Catalytic protein (see "Protein")

Production of the gene product. Expression rate ususally depends on environmental and other conditions ans is regulated by promotors and additional regulatory elements. Expression not subject to regulation is called constitutive expression

A gene is a section of DNA specifying a messenger RNA, a ribosomal RNA, or a transfer RNA. Messenger RNA is translated into an amino acid sequence (a protein).

The complete set of gene present in an organism

messenger RNA (see "RNA")

DNA sequence which is involved in the initiation of transcription ond therefore influences the intensity of expression of the gene product. The promotor usually lies in the front of the DNA sequence transcribed into a gene product.

Proteins are (sometimes very large and complex) molecules made up of 20 different amino acids. The amino acid sequence determines form and function of the protein. Proteins either have structural (as parts of membranes, cell walls, etc.) or catalytic functions, Catalytic proteins are called enzymes and make possible most biochemical reactions in the cell. An enzyme usually promotes a specific reaction or a group of related reactions.

Abbreviation for ribonucleic acid. It is built like DNA, only that it contains the nucleotide uracil instead of thymine and ribose instead of deoxyribose. RNA is usually single-stranded. Messenger RNA (mRNA) is a transcript of the DNA. It carries the information needed for the production of proteins. Transfer RNA (tRNA) recognizes nucleotide triplets (codons) on the mRNA and carries the corresponding amino acid to the site of protein synthesis.

Synthesis of a messenger RNA molecule complementary to one of the two strands of the double-stranded DNA molecule. Compare also figure G. 1.

Transfer of genetic information (e.g. a foreign gene) into an organism Transgenic Term used to describe organisms containing foreign genes inserted by using genetic engineering techniques. The foreign gene is called transgene.

Process of translation of the codons on the messenger RNA into an amino acid sequence (a protein). Compare also figure G. 1.

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