Regulation of Gene Expression
Regulation of gene expression involves a range of mechanisms used by cells for purposes of increasing or decreasing production of specific gene products. In biology, there are sophisticated gene expression programs which are widely observed for instance to trigger developmental pathways, adapt to new sources of food or respond to environmental stimuli.
Any step of gene expression can be virtually modulated from RNA processing to post-translational modification of a protein and to transcriptional initiation. Regulation of genes is essential for eukaryotes, viruses and prokaryotes for the simple reason it increases the adaptability and versatility of organisms by allowing the cell to express protein when it is needed.
The most tightly controlled process in the body is that of gene regulation. When the process is not regulated strictly, the cells don’t produce the correct amount of proteins when they need them and this disruption can cause serious consequences which might include cancer.
Gene expression should be regulated according to the needs of cells. If cells are exposed to an environment where particular gene products are needed, expression of that product is increased. Cells can also produce precise gene products as a way of responding to cellular damage or external signals.
Examples of gene regulation include insulin expression in order to ensure the level of blood glucose is regulated and cyclin expression control in order to ensure normal cell cycle progression. In this manner, gene regulation determines the overall structure of the cell as well as its function governing cell morphology, differentiation and adaptability of the cell to its environment.
Regulation of gene expression can be carried out at varying stages. For instance, transcription step can be prevented in order to stop DNA from been converted to RNA or post translational modification of protein can be stopped.
In this case, regulation can be carried out in three major ways which include:
- Epigenetic-Where non sequence DNA structure changes affect transcription
- Genetic-Where there is a control factor that interests with a gene
- Modulation-Where the control factor interacts with transcription machinery
At this stage, control is carried out by exporting and importing proteins that influence RNA transport out and in the nucleus
Compared to other stages, regulation at this stage is less common and it is used by toxins and antibiotics for instance that inhibit protein translation for purposes of disrupting the usual gene expression f the cell and leading to cellular death and dysfunction.
In multicellular organisms, gene regulation drives the process of morphogenesis and cellular differentiation leading to creation of different cell types that pose different kinds of gene expression profiles and produce different ultra structures that suit their functions though they possess the genotype that follows the same sequence genome.
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