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Chapter

Cover Molecular Biology

Genomics and genetic variation  

This chapter focuses on genomics and genetic variation. The field of genomics studies both the similarities and differences between the genomes of living organisms. The chapter therefore has two key themes: the evolutionary conservation of genomes on the one hand and the variation that leads to differences between individuals and species on the other. Selection and genetic drift work on genetic variation to shape natural populations. Evolutionary differences between species involve changes in size of genomes, the structure of genomes, and the number of genes, as well as the sequence of genes. The chapter then considers human genomics. Our rapidly expanding knowledge of the sequence and haplotype structure of the human genome allows us to trace our history, as well as to identify genes associated with many different traits and important diseases, but also carries with it the responsibility to use the information wisely.

Chapter

Cover Molecular Biology

Tools and techniques in molecular biology  

This chapter explores tools and techniques frequently used in molecular biology. Molecular biology methods range from genome-wide analysis to the dissection of interactions between isolated single molecules. A key aspect of molecular biology is the study of processes both in vivo and in vitro. The chapter begins by describing the organisms that have served as models for the study of biology in all types of cells and studies how cells and viruses can be grown in culture. It then looks at genome manipulation and genome sequencing, as well as cellular imaging and molecular structure determination. The chapter considers the amplification and cloning of nucleic acids and how such cloning, known as recombinant DNA technology, can be used both to identify new genes and to construct modified genes and chromosomes.

Chapter

Cover Molecular Biology

Genomes and the flow of biological information  

This chapter provides an overview of genomes and the flow of biological information. Biological information is typically stored in the nucleic acid DNA referred to as the genome. A gene is typically defined as a region of DNA that controls a discrete hereditary characteristic. The first stage of gene expression is transcription, in which an RNA copy of the gene is synthesized. Messenger RNAs (mRNAs) are then translated to produce a protein product in a process mediated by the ribosome. The regulation of gene expression in both time and space is extensive and occurs at every level of expression. The chapter then looks at cellular infrastructure and gene expression. The overall expression of an organism's genome determines its phenotype—that is, its physical features and properties. The chapter also assesses the evolution of the genome and the tree of life, considering the process of natural selection.

Chapter

Cover Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Cells and viruses  

This chapter offers a broad survey of the structures and properties of cells and viruses, providing a biological background for the more detailed mechanisms of cell biology, biochemistry, and molecular biology. It explains that cells are the units of living systems, wherein each cell is surrounded by a lipid membrane and has a DNA genome. The two main classes of cellular organism are prokaryotes and eukaryotes, including archaea that are a third class of organism that can live in unusual environments. The chapter examines the large numbers of ribosomes in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells, which are large complex structures of RNA and proteins found in the cytosol. The cytoplasm of eukaryotic cells can be defined as the content of the cell excluding the nucleus, while the cytosol refers to the soluble constituents of the cytoplasm from which membrane-bounded organelles have been removed.

Chapter

Cover Molecular Biology of Cancer

The cancer genome: mutations versus repair  

This chapter looks at the structures of genes and describes the mutations that occur during carcinogenesis. It argues that changes in the nucleotide sequence of DNA — called mutations — are crucial for acquiring the hallmarks of cancer and have been labeled an enabling characteristic. The chapter then investigates how, on the one hand, mutations in DNA occur as a consequence of exposure to carcinogens and, on the other hand, examine the DNA repair systems that are in place to maintain the integrity of the genome and suppress tumorigenesis. The chapter then shifts to define the genetic information, coded within DNA, and the role of the accumulation of mutations. Ultimately, the chapter concludes with a discussion of conventional chemotherapies and a new class of drugs that target DNA repair pathways. It also studies the recent findings from advances in sequencing technology and imaging.

Book

Cover Thrive in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Lynne S. Cox, David A. Harris, and Catherine J. Pears

Thrive in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology starts off by looking at molecules. It then considers cellular components and enzymes. Next, it moves on to genome stability and gene expression. The next chapter after that is about mammalian metabolic pathways. Integration in mammalian metabolism is considered next. Finally, the text looks in detail at microbial and plant metabolism. It ends with an examination of biochemical techniques.

Book

Cover Molecular Biology of Cancer
Molecular Biology of Cancer starts with an introduction. It then looks at the cancer genome. Other chapters consider the regulation of gene expression, growth factor signaling, and oncogenes. The cell cycle is also considered, as are tumor suppressor genes. The text moves on to look at apoptosis, cancer stem cells and the regulation of self-renewal and differentiation pathways. There are also chapters on metastasis, angiogenesis, reprogrammed metabolism and diet, tumor immunology and immunotherapy, and inflammation and infection. Finally, the text considers strategies and tools for research and for drug development.

Chapter

Cover Molecular Biology of Cancer

Growth factor signaling and oncogenes  

This chapter focuses on one of the fundamental characteristics of cells: their ability to self-reproduce. It stresses that the process of cell division (also known as cell proliferation or cell growth) must be carefully regulated, and DNA replication must be precisely coordinated in order to maintain the integrity of the genome for each cell generation. The chapter then moves to explicate the process of transferring a signal across a cell called signal transduction. It demonstrates the four types of proteins involved in the transduction of a growth factor signal: growth factors, growth factor receptors, intracellular signal transducers, and nuclear transcription factors, which elicit the mitogenic effect through the regulation of gene expression. Towards the end, the chapter identifies a common thread in many growth factor signal transduction pathways: many growth factor receptors are tyrosine kinases. It then reviews some examples of signal transducers.

Chapter

Cover Molecular Biology of Cancer

Strategies and tools for research and clinical development  

This chapter recalls the goal of cancer research: to reveal fundamental mechanisms of cancer biology in order to produce preventative and therapeutic agents. The chapter addresses both strategies and tools of research and drug development. It starts with a description of the scientific method used to uncover the fundamentals of the role of extrachromosomal DNA (ecDNA) in cancer. This chapter shows how simple observation can lead to the understanding of how the genomes of cancer cells can change and how this knowledge is revealing clinical implications and candidate targets for a new class of therapeutics. The chapter also describes several select experimental methods and tools that have wide applications. Finally, the chapter pays attention to the use of the CRISPR-Cas9 system — one of the newest additions to the tools for investigating cancer genes. It also considers candidate drugs and some aspects of clinical trial design.

Chapter

Cover Thrive in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Biochemical techniques  

This chapter reviews the different biochemical techniques. The experimental procedures by which biochemical information is obtained include molecular biological, immunological, biochemical, and biophysical techniques. Molecular biology techniques involve the analysis and manipulation of DNA, RNA, and protein. They include cloning genes/complementary DNAs; genomics/genome sequencing; gene therapy; and genetically modified (GM) crops. The chapter then looks at protein purification and analysis. It also considers immunological techniques, which exploit the high specificity and affinity of antibodies for their cognate antigen. They can be used simply to analyse the presence of a protein, examine post-translational modifications, probe protein–protein interactions, and interactions of protein with other macromolecules. Finally, the chapter studies biophysical techniques, which allow analysis of the structure and physical properties of biochemical macromolecules.