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Model Organisms

Description:
A human is a complicated organism, and it is considered unethical to do many kinds of experiments on human subjects. For these reasons, biologists often use simpler “model” organisms that are easy to keep and manipulate in the laboratory. Despite ob
Transcript:
Model organisms and conservation of function: A human is a complicated organism, and it is considered unethical to do many kinds of experiments on human subjects. For these reasons, biologists often use simpler “model” organisms that are easy to keep and manipulate in the laboratory. Despite obvious differences, model organisms share with humans many key biochemical and physiological functions that have been conserved (maintained) by evolution. Organisms share similar genes because they have inherited them from common ancestors. Even humans and yeast share many genes! The complete DNA sequence, the genome, is carried in the nucleus of every somatic cell (cells that are not sex-linked). In genes, three-letter groups of DNA sequences are converted to amino acids, which join together to form a protein. Amino acids can be represented using either 1 or 3 letters. If we look at a portion of the amino acids derived from the Ras gene, we can see similarities between humans and yeast. Let’s take a closer look at the ras gene in humans and yeast. The amino acids are labeled only in the first row; the remaining residues are represented by dashes. There are also highly variable regions in proteins. Some of these… …ten! Because many sequences are common across species, it is possible to place substitute human genes in model organisms without affecting protein function. This ability allows us to study how humans may respond in many experimental conditions.
Keywords:
model organisms, model systems, model, human, chimp, chimpanzee, evolution, conservation, yeast, fly, drosophila, fruit fly, protein, amino acid, nucleotide
Creative Commons License This work by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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