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Bacterial Genetics

Structure of RNA
Ribonucleic acid (RNA), the second principal kind of nucleic acid, differs from DNA
as RNA is usually single stranded, the five carbon sugar in the RNA nucleotide is
ribose as compared to deoxyribose in DNA. One of the RNA's bases is uracil (U)
instead of thymine. The other 3 bases (A, G and C) are the same in as DNA. At least
3 kinds of RNA-ribosomal RNA, messenger RNA and transfer RNA are involved in
protein synthesis.
Gene can be defined as a segment of DNA (sequence of nucleotides in DNA) that
codes for a functional product. A DNA molecule consists of a large number of genes
each of which contains hundreds of thousands of nucleotides. The length of DNA is
usually expressed in kilobases (1 kb = 1000 base pairs) and bacterial DNA is about
4000 kb in length.
The genotype of an organism is its genetic make up, the information that codes for
all particular characteristics of the organism.
Phenotype refers to the actual, expressed properties. Phenotype is thus the
manifestation of the genotype.
DNA Replication
A semiconservative model for the replication of DNA ensures transmission of genetic
information present in the parent is faithfully transmitted to the progeny. It also
means that after one generation DNA is present in a hybrid form which contains half
old and half new DNA. Replication of DNA occurs at a growing point (fork) that
moves linearly from an origin to a terminus usually in both the directions.
Genetic code is the information which resides in the nucleic acids of the organisms.
From DNA it is passed onto mRNA through which it is translated into the primary
structure of proteins.
The extrachromosomal genetic elements, called as plasmids are autonomously
replicating, cyclic, double stranded DNA molecules which are distinct from the
cellular chromosome. The plasmids carry genes that are not essential for host cell
growth while the chromosome carries all the necessary genes. Properties of plasmids
· Autonomously replicate in host cell
· Plasmid specificity is shown by host
· May express phenotypically
· Some may have apparatus for transfer
· Can reversibly integrate into host chromosome
· Can transfer even chromosomal genes
· Free DNA is transferred by transfection

Bacterial Variations
Phenotypic Variations are acquired during life of a bacterium and may not be
passed down to progeny. Genetic Variations influence the genetic composition of
the bacterium and are transmitted to the next generation. The genetic variations can
be due to two reasons:
Alterations in the genome structure due to mutations and Acquisition of genetic
material through gene transfer.
Mutation can be defined as any change in the sequence of bases of DNA, irrespective
of detectable change in the cell phenotype, may be spontaneous or induced by muta-
genic agents. Those mutations which do not express phenotypically are known as
silent mutations.
Point mutation consists of a change in a single nucleotide. Frame shift mutation
consists of the insertion or deletion of a single nucleotide. Among the replacements,
missense mutation causes one amino acid to replace another and the resultant
protein may retain its function without any major change in tertiary structure or
active sites.
An altered enzyme function due to mutation may result into the whole organism
becoming temperature sensitive. Nonsense mutations create a codon that
prematurely terminates the growing peptide chain and almost always destroys the
function of the proteins.
Induced mutations are mutations produced by agents called mutagens. These are:
1. Agents which alter the pyrimidines or purines so as to cause error in base pairing.
2. Agents which interact with DNA and its secondary structure producing local
distortions in the helix thus giving rise to errors of replication.
3. Base analogs which are incorporated into the DNA and cause replication errors.
Mutation Rate
The mutation rate is the probability of a gene mutating each time a cell divides.

Ames Test
It is used to test whether a particular substance can induce mutations or not. Ames
test is based on the hypothesis that if a substance is a mutagen, it will increase the
rate at which these organisms revert to histidine synthesizers.