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whole life sciences Glossary

whole life sciences Glossary



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Published by: ramakrishnansatish on Aug 03, 2009
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A conformation adopted by dehydrated right-handeddouble-helical DNA. The molecule is shorter and wider than a BDNA of an equivalent number of base pairs, and the base pairsare tilted relative to a line perpendicular to the helical axis.
A site
The acceptor (A) site on a ribosome at which the incomingaminoacyl-tRNAbindsandisdecoded.Thesiteinvolvesboththesmallandlargesubunitsandbindsacomplexofelongationfactor(EF-Tu in bacteria; EF-1 in archaea and eukaryotes), GTP andthe aminoacyl-tRNA.
Facing away from the main growth axis. For example, theundersideofaleafistheabaxialsurface,asitfacesawayfromthedirection of growth of the stem.
ProteinscontainingtheATP-bindingcassettemotif.They include several types of transporters.
Of or pertaining to the nonliving.
absorbance optics
Optical method for measuring the concentra-tion of a substance by measuring the loss of light due toabsorbance of photons by molecules.
Internalization of aprotein byacellafterthe protein has bound weakly and nonspecifically to chargedgroups at the cell surface.
A chemical treatment applied to animals to kill ticks andprevent transmission of tick-borne pathogens.
accelerated run
The propulsive run a large bird or a poor flierneeds to make during take-off in order to achieve the minimumflight speed.
The larger of two reactants that interact reversibly toform a complex.
TheendofatRNAmoleculetowhichanaminoacidbecomes bound. It contains both the 5
and 3
ends of the tRNA.The 3
-terminal sequence of cytidine-cytidine-adenosine (CCA)overhangstheend,andtheterminalAisthesiteof‘acceptance’of the amino acid.
acceptor end
Four nucleotides at the 3
end of tRNA, whichform the site at which the amino acid becomes bound. The lastthree nucleotides are cytidine-cytidine-adenosine (CCA) and theribose of the terminal adenosine forms a bond with the aminoacid.
That part of the acceptor arm of a tRNA moleculeinwhichnucleotidesequencesfromthe5
endsarepairedtoform duplex RNA.
An increase in the threshold for an actionpotential thatoccurs insomeneuronsduring aslowlydevelopingor prolonged depolarization. The result is that only a few actionpotentials are generated during prolonged depolarization abovethe normal threshold level.
Activator and Dissociation, the two mutable loci originallyidentified by Barbara McClintock that were able to move in thegenome.
A chemical neurotransmitter that is released fromtheendsofcertaintypesofnervefibrewhentheyarestimulated.Ittransmitsasignaltoanadjacentnerveormusclecellbybindingtoreceptors on the target cell surface.
acetylcholine receptor channel
A type of receptor for theneurotransmitter acetylcholine, found on skeletal muscle cellsand some nerve cells. Also known as the nicotinic acetylcholinereceptor,itismadeupofanumberofproteinsubunitswhichformanionchannel throughthecellmembrane.Thechannel isopenedbythebindingofacetylcholinetoextracellularsitesontheprotein.
A set of four closely linked genesin
thatareimportantfortheformationofthenervoussystem.Theyencodetranscriptionfactorsofthebasichelix-loop-helix (bHLH) type.
A single-seeded dry fruit that does not split open.
Stone tool industry dominated by handaxes.
Nucleoside analogue inhibitor of human herpesvirus 1.
) ortoanotheracceptor. An acid can alsobe consideredasa compound that dissociates to produce H
and its conjugatebase.
acid–base catalysis
Enzymatic catalysis that involves a generalacid (a molecular species that can donate a proton, e.g. histidine)and a general base (a molecular species that can accept a proton,e.g. aspartic acid) at the enzyme active site.
acid hydrolases
Hydrolytic enzymes that have maximum activityat acid pH. In animal cells they are found mainly in lysosomes.
acquired immunity
adaptive immunity.
Uptake of virus by a vector.
acquisition period
Time required for a vector feeding on the hostto acquire the virus.
A chromosome with the centromere near one end andthus having one very short arm and one long arm.
The most anterior portion of the crustacean body, generallythought not to be homologous to the other segments and usuallyincluding the protocerebrum and eyes.
Refers to leaves, flowers, or other structures developingsuccessively along an axis so that the youngest are at the tip.
A cap-like structure covering the anterior part of thesperm head, containing enzymes important for fertilization.
The protein monomer (G-actin) that polymerizes to form themicrofilaments (F-actin) of the eukaryotic cell cytoskeleton andthe thin filaments of muscle and other contractile structures ineukaryotic cells.
actin-binding proteins
Proteins that interact with actin, either tomodulate its polymerization and depolymerization, or to linkactin microfilaments to each other, to membranes or to otherproteins.
actin cycle
The polymerization/depolymerization of actin fila-ments, which is coupled to nucleotide hydrolysis and exchange.
actinosporean phase
The alternate phase of development inmyxozoan parasites, which occurs in annelid worms andculminates in the formation of actinosporean spores.
actinotroch, actinotrocha
The larval form in the Phoronida, aphylum of marine worm-like animals.
action potential
An electrical impulse that propagates alongneurons, and other electrically excitable cells such as muscle, inresponse to stimulation above a certain threshold. It consists of aself-propagatingdepolarizationof0.1Vinthecellmembraneandcarries an informational signal from the cell body to the nerveterminals, where it activates synaptic transmission.
activating regions
Sites on transcription-activating proteins thatmake direct contact with RNA polymerase during the initiationof transcription at gene promoters.
Stimulation of a cell, protein or gene to carry out itsfunction. A gene, for example, is said to be activated when it isbeing transcribed; an ionchannel issaid to beactivated when it isopen.
activation energy
Difference in free energy between the ground-state energy of a substrate and the transition state for theconversion of substrate into product.
A regulatory molecule, usually a protein, that increasesgene expression.
active site
The part of an enzyme to which substrate binds andwhere conversion to product is catalysed.
active transport
Transport of molecules or ions across amembrane against a concentration or electrochemical gradientand which thus requires energy.
active zone
Region within an axon terminal where synapticvesicles fuse with the plasma membrane to release neurotrans-mitterintothesynapticcleft.Proteinsinvolvedinthedockingandfusion of synaptic vesicles are concentrated at this site.
Confronting and attempting to improve problematicsituations.
activity coefficient
Ratio of the activity of a solute to itsactual molar concentration. It is the fraction of the actualconcentration that appears to be present as measured by somephysical process.
Enzyme to which an acyl group is covalently bondedby the reaction between a nucleophile on the enzyme and anacylating agent.
adenine deaminase deficiency.
(1) A feature of an organism whose presence can beexplained by the fact that it served some fitness-enhancingfunction in the organism’s ancestors, allowing those organismsthat possessed the trait in question to out-reproduce those thatdidnot. (2)Changesinthe functionorbehaviour ofanorganismmade in response to changes in the external environment.
Describes a feature or behaviour of an organism thatserves to enhance that organism’s fitness.
adaptive immunity
The antigen-specific immune responsesmounted by B and T lymphocytes, which give rise to antibodies,effector T cells and immunological memory specific for theantigen that evoked them. This type of immune response can bemounted against an almost infinite variety of antigens and isfound only in vertebrates. Subsequent re-exposure to the antigenproduces amore rapidand stronger immune response, dueto thepresence of immunological memory.
adaptive landscape
A graphical representation of all possiblefrequencies of a given set of alleles in a population, which conferdifferent degrees of fitness. ‘Peaks’ and ‘valleys’ in the landscaperepresent combinations of allele frequencies of high and lowfitness, respectively.
adaptive radiation
Rapid evolutionary divergence of a singlephyletic line, e.g. the mammals, into different ecological nichesor adaptive zones, with the formation of many different groups.The different groups arise almost synchronously, so that in thefossil record they are perceived as originating at about the sametime.
Facing towards the main growth axis. For example, theuppersurfaceofaleafistheadaxialsurface,asitfacestowardsthedirection of growth of the stem.
additive distance
The distance between two operational taxo-nomic units in a phylogenetic tree, which should be equal to thesum of the connecting branch lengths. This assumes a constantrate of substitutions since the time of divergence from theancestral sequence.
Proteins onthe surface of endothelialcells whichactasligands for lymphocyte homing receptors, guiding the lympho-cyte into the appropriate tissue.
(1) A type of DNA damage in which a foreign chemicalgroup is inappropriately attached to the DNA molecule. (2) Aproduct of a chemical addition reaction.
adenine (A)
Purine base that is one of the four types of bases inRNA and DNA.
adenosine deaminase deficiency (ADA)
A deficiency of thepurine salvage enzyme adenosine deaminase, which results insevere combined immunodeficiency (SCID) due to toxic effectson lymphocyte development.
Asmall,water-solublenucleotidethat is the principal carrier of energy in cellular metabolism. It isformed bythe phosphorylationofadenosine diphosphate(ADP)during the light reaction of photosynthesis and during respira-tion.
Proteins onthe surfaceofbacteriathatmediateadhesionto host cells by binding to receptors on the host cell.
adhesion molecules
(1) Cell-surface proteins of various typesthrough which cells bind to other cells or to the extracellularmatrix. (2) Proteins produced by granulocytes in some inverte-brates. They are released by exocytosis and may act as opsoninsforinfectingantigens.Adhesionmoleculesarealsolocatedontheplasma membrane.
A cell-surface protein that confers mechanicalstability on cell–cell or cell–matrix interactions by binding toparticular ligands. Also known as adhesion molecule.
A rarely seen type of haemocyte in inverte-brates, characterized by refringent intracytoplasmic lipiddroplets.
Any substance that when mixed with an antigennonspecifically enhances the immune response to that antigen.
Apopulationoriginatingfromthemixingof individuals from two or more ancestral populations, but havingan identity of its own distinguishable from the parentalpopulations.
adoptive transfer 
The transfer of immune system cells or cellderivatives into an animal or human to initiate or augment animmune response.
adrenal cortex
The outer layers of the adrenal gland, which areresponsible for synthesis and secretion of corticosteroid hor-mones (e.g. cortisol, aldosterone).
adrenaline (epinephrine)
The main catecholamine hormonereleased by the adrenal medulla.
Theinnercoreoftheadrenalgland.Itismadeupof chromaffin cells, which are developmentally related toadrenergic neurons. They synthesize and secrete the catechola-mine hormones – noradrenaline and adrenaline.
External connective tissue layer of a blood vessel wall.
adventitious root
Root formed on tissue other than young roottissue (apart from the embryonic root).
apical ectodermal ridge.
aerobic metabolism
The biochemical processes that occur whenan organism is breaking down glucose in the presence of oxygen(aerobic respiration).
aerobic respiration
The breakdown of glucose by cells in thepresence of molecular oxygen.
External openings in the chambered chorion of tardi-grade eggs and in many insect eggs, which permit gas exchangewith minimal water loss.
aetiological mutation
Allelic variants directly predisposing to adisease.
The underlying cause of a disease or other pathologicalcondition.
Without fever.
Carrying towards.
afferent fibre
A nerve fibre that is derived from a sensoryneuron and connects a peripheral sensory structure to thebrain.
Nervefibresthatconductfromtheperipheryto the central nervous system. The term broadly corresponds tosensory fibres.
afferent projection
The axons that project from a structure to itstarget, providing input to the target.
The binding strength of one molecule for another,considered as the strength of binding of a single binding site toa monovalent ligand, e.g. ligand to receptor, substrate to enzymeor a single antigen-binding site on an antibody to its correspond-ing antigenic determinant. cf. Avidity
Bacterial adhesinsthatare notassociatedwithfimbrial structures.
afterhyperpolarizing potential
A brief membrane potentialmore negative than the resting potential that occurs after anaction potential. It is due to the conductances through voltage-dependentpotassiumchannels(andcalcium-activatedpotassiumchannels in some neurons) that open as a result of the actionpotential.
The absence of immunoglobulins, andhence of antibodies.
The absence of parasympathetic ganglion cells inthe colon.
A sulphated polysaccharide rich in galactose- and 3,6-anhydrogalactose that is found in the walls of some red algaeand used in the food, medicinal and dental industries.
agarose gel electrophoresis
Electrophoresis carried out in anagarose gel, which is used to separate DNA fragments between100 bp and 50 kb in length.
reflecting the order of first appearances, with the oldest giventhe rank of 1 and the youngest a rank of 
A drug or natural ligand that binds to and activates areceptor.
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome. A severe immuno-deficiency due to the depletion of T lymphocytes caused byinfection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
airway hyperresponsiveness
An exaggerated bronchoconstric-tor response to various stimuli, which results in bronchospasmand increased obstruction of the airways.
General name for several taxonomic groups of single-celledor simple multicellular photosynthetic eukaryotic organisms,including the seaweeds.
An outer cell wall component of some chlorococcaleangreenalgaethatconsistsoflongpolymethylenicchainsassociatedwith amide groups and minor amounts of 
A polysaccharide composed of 
-mannuronic acid and
-glucuronicacidresiduesinirregularsequences,foundprimarilyin some brown algae. Alginate is used as a thickener andstabilizing agent in the food and pharmaceutical industries.
Asetofrulesforsolvingaprobleminafinitenumberof steps.
EnzymeswhoseactivitiesareoptimalatalkalinepH (
10). Alkaliphilic microorganisms produce various extra-cellular alkaline enzymes, e.g. cellulases, amylases and proteases.
Microorganisms that grow optimally or very well atpH
9, often between pH 10 and 12, but which cannot grow, orgrow only slowly, at neutral pH.
Amildrecessivegeneticdisorderofhumansinwhichthe metabolic breakdown of tyrosine is abnormal because theenzyme homogentisate oxidase is missing. Affected individualsaccumulate homogentisic acid, which causes their urine andcartilaginous parts of their bodies to blacken.
alkylating agents
Reactive chemicals that can transfer alkylgroups to cellular macromolecules, including DNA, RNA andproteins.
One of two or more alternative forms of a gene that canoccupythesameposition,orgenelocus,onthechromosome.Forsome genes, one allele is present in the great majority of thepopulation andisconsidered the normal or‘wild-type’ form. Forother genes, there are numerous different alleles within thepopulation, none of which clearly predominates.
allele frequency
For a given gene in a given population, thefrequency of occurrence of a particular allele, expressed as afraction of all the alleles.
allelic heterogeneity
Phenotypic differences or similarities pro-duced by different mutations at a single gene locus.
An environmental protein antigen or small-moleculehaptenthatprovokesanallergicreactioninasensitizedindividual.On initial encounter (sensitization) the allergen induces theproduction of allergen-specific IgE antibodies. Subsequent en-counter with the allergen induces allergic reactions mediated bytheseantibodies.Commonallergensaretheproteinsinpollensandother substances that provoke hay fever and asthma.
An adverse immune reaction against a common environ-mentalantigen(theallergen).Itoccursonlyincertainindividuals.
An antigen found only in some members of a species.
allocation of carbon
The flow of assimilated carbon into variouscompartments or biochemical pathways.
Describestissues, cellsormolecules fromone individualthatprovokeanimmunereactioninanotherindividualofthesamespecies. Allogeneic reactions are due to the genetic differencesbetweenindividuals, which arereflectedinantigenicdifferencesinsome of the proteins and other macromolecules they make.
allogeneic mouse strains
Strains of mice that possess differentmajorhistocompatibilitygenes,andthusproducedifferentmajorhistocompatibility antigens.
Agraftoftissuetoageneticallynonidenticalindividualof the same species. Allografts are usually rejected, due to thedifferences in major and minor histocompatibility antigensbetween unrelated individuals. Also known as a homograft.
Describes the immune response to a geneticallynonidentical graft from an individual of the same species.

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