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a representation (drawing or 3D) of an object, law, theory or event used as a tool for understanding the natural world; all have limitations

biochemical process

chemical process that occurs in living organisms such as protein synthesis, cellular respiration, photosynthesis, etc.


to make

protein synthesis

to make a polypeptide (protein) through transcription and translation

amino acid

monomer, or building block, of a polypeptide (protein)


chain of amino acids; a protein contains one or more of these

peptide bond

name of bond that holds amino acids together


specifically designed to build or operate a component of a living cell (ex. human insulin & hemoglobin)


a characteristic of an organism that is determined by protein structure & function (ex. hitchhiker's thumb)


section of DNA that codes for a protein and thus determines a trait


deoxyribose sugar vs. ribose sugar, thymine vs. uracil , double strand vs. single strand


nitrogenous base specific to RNA in place of thymine (A-U)


process where a part of DNA is copied into a complementary sequence of messenger RNA

messenger RNA (mRNA)

type of RNA that carries a copy of the genetic code from the DNA to the ribosomes

template strand (in transcription)

the DNA strand that is used as the code to "build" a complementary strand of mRNA

RNA polymerase

enzyme that assembles the mRNA complementary strand by joining ribonucleotides


nucleotide that has ribose as the sugar; monomer of RNA


three-nucleotide base sequence (triplet) on DNA and mRNA that codes for a single amino acid

location of transcription in eukaryotes


location of transcription in prokaryotes (bacteria)



decoding of a mRNA sequence into a polypeptide chain / protein

location of translation in ALL cells

at the ribosomes

transfer RNA (tRNA)

type of RNA that transfers the amino acids to the ribosome

location of "free-floating" amino acids



three-nucleotide base sequence (triplet) on tRNA that codes for an amino acid

ribosomal RNA (rRNA)

type of RNA that makes up ribosomes and aids in translating mRNA into a protein

genetic code (mRNA codon chart)

the 4-letter code; always use the chart reading the mRNA strand


change in a DNA sequence that affects genetic information

gene mutation

mutations that produce changes in a gene as opposed to changes in whole chromosomes

point mutation

mutation involving change in one nucleotide; example is a substitution

substitution mutation

point mutation in which one nitrogeneous base (nucleotide) is changed to another

reading frame

a way of dividing the sequence of nucleotides in a nucleic acid (DNA or RNA) molecule into a set of consecutive, non-overlapping triplets

frame-shift mutation

mutation that shifts the "reading frame" of the genetic message; includes insertions and deletions

insertion mutation

frame-shift mutation where a nucleotide is added to the genetic material

deletion mutation

frame-shift mutation where a nucleotide is deleted from the genetic material

silent mutation

mutation that does not result in a change to the amino acid sequence of a protein; also called neutral



significance of gene mutations

can be neutral with no effect, harmful by producing defective proteins/traits, or beneficial by increasing chance of survival

gene expression

the multi-step process of turning the code of a gene into its final product (most often a protein)


region of DNA that indicates to RNA polymerase where to bind in order to make RNA


parts of DNA that do NOT code for a protein; get "cut" out of mRNA


parts of DNA that do code for a protein; get left in mRNA

gene regulation

a process where a cell determines which genes it will express and not express; turning genes "on and off"

The lac operon

example of gene regulation in bacteria when the lac gene is turn off or turned on to make an enzyme (protein) to break down lactose sugar

stem cells

cells that can differentiate into a variety of specialized cells in multicellular organisms

cell differentiation

the process directed by the DNA code for converting stem cells into more specialized cell types in multicellular organisms

specialized cells

cells with specific structures and functions (ex. blood cells, epithelial cells, sperm cells, guard cells, etc.)

role of DNA in cell differentiation

holds the code that determines which traits (proteins) will be expressed to make a cell specialized

role of RNA in cell differentiation

carries the code from DNA and helps assemble the proteins that make cells become specialized

role of environmental factors in cell differentiation

radiation, toxic chemicals, temperature, nutrition, etc. can alter gene expression and cell differentiation

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