AP Biology Vocabulary & Roots: Ch

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AP Biology Vocabulary & Roots: Ch. 18
1. activator-A protein that binds to DNA and stimulates gene transcription. In prokaryotes,
activators bind in or near the promoter; in eukaryotes, activators bind to control elements in
enhancers.
2. alternative RNA splicing-A type of eukaryotic gene regulation at the RNA-processing level in
which different mRNA molecules are produced from the same primary transcript, depending on
which RNA segments are treated as exons and which as introns.
3. bicoid-A maternal effect gene that codes for a protein responsible for specifying the anterior end
in Drosophila.
4. cell differentiation-The structural and functional divergence of cells as they become specialized
during a multicellular organism’s development. Cell differentiation depends on the control of gene
expression.
5. control element-A segment of noncoding DNA that helps regulate transcription of a gene by
binding a transcription factor. Multiple control elements are present in a eukaryotic gene’s
enhancer.
6. corepressor-A small molecule that binds to a bacterial repressor protein and changes its shape,
allowing it to switch an operon off.
7. cyclic AMP (cAMP)-Cyclic adenosine monophosphate, a ring-shaped molecule made from ATP
that is a common intracellular signaling molecule (second messenger) in eukaryotic cells. It is also a
regulator of some bacterial operons.
8. cytoplasmic determinant-A maternal substance, such as a protein or RNA, placed into an egg
that influences the course of early development by regulating the expression of genes that affect the
developmental fate of cells.
9. determination-The progressive restriction of developmental potential in which the possible fate
of each cell becomes more limited as an embryo develops. At the end of determination, a cell is
committed to its fate.
10. differential gene expression-The expression of different sets of genes by cells with the same
genome.
11. egg-polarity gene-A gene that helps control the orientation (polarity) of the egg; also called a
maternal effect gene.
12. embryonic lethal-A mutation with a phenotype leading to death of an embryo or larva.
13. enhancer-A segment of eukaryotic DNA containing multiple control elements, usually located
far from the gene whose transcription it regulates.
14. epigenetic inheritance-Inheritance of traits transmitted by mechanisms not directly involving
the nucleotide sequence of a genome.
15. feedback inhibition-A method of metabolic control in which the end product of a metabolic
pathway acts as an inhibitor of an enzyme within that pathway.
16. genomic imprinting-A phenomenon in which expression of an allele in offspring depends on
whether the allele is inherited from the male or female parent.
17. histone-A small protein with a high proportion of positively charged amino acids that binds to
the negatively charged DNA and plays a key role in chromatin structure.
18. histone acetylation-The attachment of acetyl groups to certain amino acids of histone proteins.
19. homeotic gene-Any of the master regulatory genes that control placement and spatial
organization of body parts in animals, plants, and fungi by controlling the developmental fate of
groups of cells.
20. inducer-A specific small molecule that binds to a bacterial repressor protein and changes the
repressor's shape so that it cannot bind to an operator, thus switching an operon on.
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21. induction-The process in which one group of embryonic cells influences the development of
another, usually by causing changes in gene expression.
22. maternal effect gene-A gene that, when mutant in the mother, results in a mutant phenotype in
the offspring, regardless of the offspring’s genotype. Maternal effect genes were first identified in
Drosophila.
23. microRNA (miRNA)-A small, single-stranded RNA molecule, generated from a hairpin
structure on a precursor RNA transcribed from a particular gene. The miRNA associates with one or
more proteins in a complex that can degrade or prevent translation of an mRNA with a
complementary sequence.
24. morphogen-A substance, such as Bicoid protein in Drosophila, that provides positional
information in the form of a concentration gradient along an embryonic axis.
25. morphogenesis-The development of body shape and organization.
26. oncogene- A gene found in viral or cellular genomes that is involved in triggering molecular
events that can lead to cancer.
27. operator-In bacterial DNA, a sequence of nucleotides near the start of an operon to which an
active repressor can attach. The binding of the repressor prevents RNA polymerase from attaching
to the promoter and transcribing the genes of the operon.
28. operon- A unit of genetic function found in bacteria and phages, consisting of a promoter, an
operator, and a coordinately regulated cluster of genes whose products function in a common
pathway.
29. p53 gene-A tumor-suppressor gene that codes for a specific transcription factor that promotes
the synthesis of cell cycle–inhibiting proteins.
30. pattern formation-The development of a multicellular organism’s spatial organization, the
arrangement of organs and tissues in their characteristic places in three-dimensional space.
31. polyp-The sessile variant of the cnidarian body plan. The alternate form is the medusa.
32. positional information-Molecular cues that control pattern formation in an animal or plant
embryonic structure by indicating a cell’s location relative to the organism’s body axes. These cues
elicit a response by genes that regulate development.
33. proteasome-A giant protein complex that recognizes and destroys proteins tagged for
elimination by the small protein ubiquitin.
34. proto-oncogene-A normal cellular gene that has the potential to become an oncogene.
35. ras gene-A gene that codes for Ras, a G protein that relays a growth signal from a growth factor
receptor on the plasma membrane to a cascade of protein kinases, ultimately resulting in stimulation
of the cell cycle.
36. regulatory gene-A gene that codes for a protein, such as a repressor, that controls the
transcription of another gene or group of genes.
37. repressor-A protein that inhibits gene transcription. In prokaryotes, repressors bind to the DNA
in or near the promoter. In eukaryotes, repressors may bind to control elements within enhancers, to
activators, or to other proteins in a way that blocks activators from binding to DNA.
38. RNA interference (RNAi)-A technique used to silence the expression of selected genes. RNAi
uses synthetic double-stranded RNA molecules that match the sequence of a particular gene to
trigger the breakdown of the gene’s messenger RNA.
39. small interfering RNA (siRNA)-A small, single-stranded RNA molecule generated by cellular
machinery from a long, double-stranded RNA molecule. The siRNA associates with one or more
proteins in a complex that can degrade or prevent translation of an mRNA with a complementary
sequence. In some cases, siRNA can also block transcription by promoting chromatin modification.
40. tumor-suppressor gene-A gene whose protein product inhibits cell division, thereby preventing
the uncontrolled cell growth that contributes to cancer.
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Word Roots
morph- = form; -gen = produce (morphogen: a substance that provides positional information in the
form of a concentration gradient along an embryonic axis)
proto- = first, original; onco- = tumor (proto-oncogene: a normal cellular gene corresponding to an
oncogene)
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