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Course genetics

Biology 97 is an interesting class to take because it is all about genetics! Genetics is a great subject to be acquainted with because the information you learn can help you predict the offspring of two organisms, or decide if a disease is going to get passed down a family. Of course, Genetics is fun but it is not easy. Keep reading to find out the concepts you must know and will get tested on for Biology 97 at UCI!

1. RNA is divided into two different categories

Messenger RNA is a  protein which has a major role in producing genes, and their transcripts direct protein synthesis by the process of translation. mRNA is the short-lived, intermediary form of RNA that conveys the genetic message of DNA to ribosomes for translation.  It is the ONLY form of RNA that undergoes translation. Next, there is functional RNA. Functional RNA performs a variety of specialized roles in the cell. They carry out their activities in nucleic acid form and are not translated. Two major forms are active in bacterial and eukaryotic translation.

 

2. There are three additional types of RNA in eukaryotic cells ONLY.

Small nuclear RNA (snRNA) is found in the nucleus of eukaryotic cells, where it participates in mRNA processing. Some of them even unite with nuclear proteins to make ribonucleoprotein complexes that are responsible for intron removal. Next, there is Micro RNA (miRNA). Micro RNA is  active in plant and animal cells, but not bacterial cells. They have a widespread and important role in post transcriptional regulation of mRNA, regulating protein production through RNA interference. Lastly, there is small Interfering RNA (siRNA): A specialized type of functional RNA that helps protect plant and animal genomes from the production of viruses and from the spread of transposable genetic elements within the genome. Remember that catalytically active RNA molecules can catalyze biological reactions. These are called ribozymes, they are catalytically active RNA that can activate cellular reactions, including the removal of introns in a process identified as self splicing.

 

3. PCR

PCR is a revolutionary method developed by Kary Mullis in the 1980s. It is based on using the ability of DNA polymerase to synthesize new strand of DNA complementary to the offered template strand. Because DNA polymerase can add a nucleotide only onto a preexisting 3′-OH group, it needs a primer to which it can add the first nucleotide. This requirement makes it possible to delineate a specific region of template sequence that the researcher wants to amplify. At the end of the PCR reaction, the specific sequence will be accumulated in billions of copies.

 

4. Proteins give us our phenotype

Enzymes and many structural components of cells are made up of protein. Proteins determine how we function and how we look. DNA controls our phenotype by encoding proteins. The conversion of a gene into its product (generally a protein via an RNA intermediate) is called Gene Expression. Gene Expression is a highly regulated and cell type specific. DNA is copied into messenger RNA before it becomes protein. This is called transcription. Note: This concept is usually always tested on the midterm!

 

5. The Applications of PCR

There are many reasons why PCR is used and applied in the science and medical field. PCR helps with pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, forensics (which can be seen in the Innocence Project. This project strives to analyze DNA evidence for people who are on death row to see if they can find evidence for their innocence and guilt). Other uses are for screening blood products for diseases and for sequencing the Neanderthal genome.

 

Biology 97 is a class that will be very useful if you are interested in becoming a future geneticist, doctor, researcher, or lifetime learner! This class is usually offered in the Fall and Winter quarters at UCI. The course code is not set in stone and is subject to change every quarter, so be on the lookout for the course “Genetics” under the Biology section of class registration. Genetics can definitely be a tough subject, but if you study hard and go to office hours, you can get an A!


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Ari Zaed


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