GLOSSARY OF TERMS

A - C

D - G

H - K

L - P

Q - Z

Digitization

The process of converting data into a digital code of ones and zeros that can then be used by many computing applications. Digital information is easy to store, easy to replicate, and relatively platform independent.

DNA or Deoxyribonucleic acid

A long polymer of nucleotides joined together by a backbone of sugars and phosphate molecules. The molecule usually exists in a double stranded form with the sugars and phosphates on the outside of the molecule and the nucleotides on the inside. Once the two strands are separated, and the sequence of the nucleotides are exposed, other molecules can access information contained on the DNA that informs the development of the organism (see DNA sequence), including coding sequences which determine the primary structure of proteins (the sequence of amino acids that make up each protein).

DNA sequence

A sequence of letters that represents the sequence of the four nucleotides on a DNA molecule. By convention, Adenine=A, Thymine=T, Cytosine=C, and Guanine=G. Once rendered into this cipher, the genetic information contained within the nucleotide sequence can then be stored in large databases (see DNA).

Dominant

A gene that causes a phenotypic change when only one (or more) copy of that gene is present (see Recessive).

Escherichia coli (E. coli)

A bacterial organism first discovered in 1885 by Theodor Escherich. It is the most prevalent organism found in mammalian digestive systems, although it is by no means confined to this environment. Its ubiquity, inability to sporulate, and its rapid generational time have made it the most highly utilized model organism in biomedical researcher (see Model organisms). Many different strains of E. coli have been engineered and isolated for specific research methods.

Gene

The primary unit of heredity, consisting of a distinct sequence of nucleotides that code for and regulate the production of a specific protein or peptide sequence.

GFP or Green Fluorescent Protein

A protein isolated from the jellyfish Aequorea Victoria that luminesces green when exposed to a blue or ultraviolet light. The gene for GFP was cloned in 1994 and is often engineered to express itself with another gene of interest. Researchers can then quickly visualize the GFP and infer that the other gene was expressed as well. GFP has now been expressed in almost all model organisms (see Model organisms) and has been especially useful for understanding how proteins are transported, how they are folded, and in what tissues or cells they are expressed.

Gradient

A differential in the concentration of a solute amongst two adjoining regions. Gradients are often used in biomolecular research to separate molecules on the basis of molecular weights.