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allele One of two or more alternative forms of a gene that exist at a specific gene location on a chromosome.

amino acid The base chemical subunit of proteins. There are 20 common amino acids.

autosomal traits Traits carried on the chromosomes other than the sex chromosomes (X and Y).

base One of five compounds--adenine, guanine, cytosine, thymine, and uracil--that form the genetic code in DNA and RNA.

chromosomes Long threadlike structures made of DNA and protein that are the gene-bearing structures of eukaryotic cells.

codon A three-nucleotide sequence that codes for a specific amino acid stop or start signal in protein synthesis.

deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) A double-stranded, helical nucleic acid molecule that is the carrier of genetic information.

DNA replication The copying of a DNA molecule.

DNA sequencing The process of deciphering the precise order of nucleotide bases in a DNA molecule.

dominant trait A characteristic determined by an allele that is expressed over any other alleles for a given trait.

enzymes A class of proteins that acts as catalysts, chemical agents that change the rate of a reaction without being consumed by the reaction.

gel electrophoresis The separation and identification of molecules based on their movement through an electrically charged field.

gene A discrete unit of hereditary information that consists of DNA and is located on the chromosomes.

gene cloning The process of synthesizing multiple copies of a particular DNA sequence using a bacteria cell or another organism as a host.

genetic code The set of sixty-four codons corresponding to each amino acid.

genetic engineering The technique of altering the genetic makeup of cells or organisms by deliberately inserting, removing, or altering individual genes.

gene expression The process in which a cell produces the protein encoded by a particular gene.

gene therapy A method of treating diseases that involves inserting new genetic material into a patient's cells.

genetics The study of how traits pass from parents to children and the molecular basis of those traits.

genome The entire set of genetic instructions for a given organism.

heterozygous Having two different alleles for a given gene.

homozygous Having two identical alleles for a given gene.

messenger RNA (mRNA) A type of RNA that relays the genetic information from the DNA in the nucleus to ribosomes in the cytoplasm.

nucleotide A chemical subunit composed of a five-carbon sugar, bonded to a phosphate group and nitrogenous base, which makes up DNA and RNA.

protein A molecule chain containing amino acid subunits linked together in a specific sequence.

recessive trait A characteristic determined by an allele that requires the presence of two identical alleles to be expressed.

recombinant DNA (rDNA) A DNA sequence produced by artificially joining pieces of DNA from different organisms.

restriction enzyme An enzyme that cuts DNA molecules at a specific base sequence.

ribonucleic acid (RNA) A single-stranded nucleic acid molecule involved in protein synthesis. The structure of RNA is determined by DNA.

ribosome A structure within cells that manufactures proteins by linking together amino acids according to the coded sequence on a strand of messenger RNA.

transcription The process of converting genetic instructions coded in a segment of DNA into messenger RNA.

transfer RNA (tRNA) A type of RNA that carries amino acids to ribosomes for the purpose of constructing a protein.

translation The conversion of genetic information coded in a segment of mRNA into a sequence of amino acids.

X-linked trait A trait that is passed on from mother to child or father to daughter on the X chromosome.




  1. Genes, DNA, and Mutations
  2. Genetic Inheritance
  3. Predicting Genetic Combinations
  4. Genetic Testing
  5. Genetic Counseling
  6. Gene Therapy


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