question on gene

Mike Miller mbmiller at SIRRONALD.WUSTL.EDU
Thu Feb 22 12:07:13 EST 1996

The concept of the 'gene' was developed to explain patterns of
inheritance.  It was originally defined as "the functional unit of
heredity."  Later it was discovered that all these 'genes' were determined
by DNA sequences.  Now it's gotten a little complicated because we can
look at the DNA in a much more direct way.  A phenotype could be a blot on
a gel.  What is a gene today?  The old concept seems less useful.  Today
when most people speak of a gene, they are talking about a DNA sequence
that carries sequence information for a polypeptide.  The dogma is:

Gene -------------> Messenger RNA -----------> Polypeptide
     transcription                translation

There are other kinds of genes that control this process.

I'm just giving my view of things here.  I didn't do any kind of research
on the history of the use of the term 'gene.' Other readers will probably
want to correct me on some point, and I welcom that.  I think the question
of the meaning of 'gene' is an interesting one and I hope there will be
more discussion. 


Michael B. Miller, M.S., Ph.D.
Department of Psychiatry (Box 8134)
Washington University School of Medicine
4940 Children's Place,  St. Louis, MO 63110
WWW Homepage:


On 22 Feb 1996 S957325 at wrote:

> I have some questions about gene.  What is gene???  How many gene in our 
> body??  What are the functions of gene??  Will gene form another biological 
> components?
> Is there any difference between DNA and gene???
> Thanks for answering my questiuons
> Linda

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