Molecular Aspects

C D Berdanier, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA

H C Freake, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, USA

© 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

The completion of the sequencing of the human genome has resulted in a broadening of focus to include the investigation of the complex environment in which these genes operate. Although the term 'gene' refers to a specific sequence of DNA, the biological effects of that gene are manifest through its expression as a protein or peptide product. Nutrients affect the expression of genes in a variety of ways. Nutrients are required for the synthesis and packaging of DNA. Some have specific effects on the synthesis of messenger RNA (i.e., either suppress or enhance transcription). Others affect the synthesis of the pyrimi-dine and purine bases used for DNA and RNA synthesis. Some nutrients have an overall effect on protein synthesis, whereas others influence the translation of the messenger RNA into protein or the post-translational modification of the newly synthesized protein. Still others can affect the outcome of gene expression by influencing the environment in which the gene product functions. This article outlines the process of gene expression, focusing on the ways in which it is influenced and regulated by particular nutrients.

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