Essential genes by Benjamin Lewin

By Benjamin Lewin

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LEWIMC02_023-037hr3 7/2/05 11:19 AM Page 25 Mutations in the Same Gene Cannot Complement It is important to remember that a gene does not directly generate a protein. 2, a gene codes for an RNA, which may in turn code for a protein. Most genes code for proteins, but some genes code for RNAs that do not give rise to proteins. These RNAs may be structural components of the apparatus responsible for synthesizing proteins or may have roles in regulating gene expression. The basic principle is that the gene is a sequence of DNA that specifies the sequence of an independent product.

Each metabolic step is catalyzed by a particular enzyme, whose production is the responsibility of a single gene. A mutation in the gene alters the activity of the protein for which it is responsible. A modification in the hypothesis is needed to accommodate proteins that consist of more than one subunit. If the subunits are all the same, the protein is a homomultimer, represented by a single gene. If the subunits are different, the protein is a heteromultimer. Stated as a more general rule applicable to any heteromultimeric protein, the one gene: one enzyme hypothesis becomes more precisely expressed as one gene: one polypeptide chain.

3 Mutations in the Same Gene Cannot Complement Key Concepts Key Terms • A mutation in a gene affects only the protein coded by the mutant copy of the gene and does not affect the protein coded by any other allele. • Failure of two mutations to complement (produce wild-type phenotype) when they are present in trans configuration in a heterozygote means that they are part of the same gene. • A complementation test determines whether two mutations are alleles of the same gene. It is accomplished by crossing two different recessive mutations that have the same phenotype and determining whether the wild-type phenotype can be produced.

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