What Is Gene Expression?
Gene expression is a term used to describe what happens when data in a gene directs how a protein is made. The cells in your body or any other organism read gene sequences and react in a certain fashion. These gene sequences are called bases. There are generally three different types of bases that correspond to 20 amino acids. The process by which they mix and match to build proteins is called gene expression.
The point of gene expression is to dictate cell function. Thousands of genes in any given cell tell your cells what they should be doing. It also helps control what types of proteins a cell manufactures and how much of it a cell makes.
Let’s take a look at gene expression and how it affects our bodies and overall health. Understanding more about gene expression can help us make more informed choices about many aspects of our health.
The Gene Expression Process
Protein production begins when DNA converts into RNA. Then, the RNA becomes protein and plays a big part in what cells do and how much of it they do. The way cells process RNA and create proteins affects protein levels in the body and their function.
Every second, the body makes thousands of RNA transcripts. Knowing this, it’s understandable why this point of the protein production process is where most gene expression occurs. It’s particularly effective because a single mRNA molecule makes several proteins.
The body, and indeed many other organisms, have a lot of genes in every cell. Which genes are expressed, however, depends on transcript regulators. Whichever genes bind to the protein building blocks determine what any given cell ends up doing. Cells often interpret genetic code in different ways.
How a cell interprets and ultimately expresses genetic information affects each organism’s phenotype. It impacts things like hair color, eye color, and many other characteristic features.
Gene Expression Profiling
Modern technology allows for the profiling of gene expression. We can measure how much of a gene is expressed inside a cell. It can measure up to thousands of genes at any given moment, something biomedical researchers use to understand which genes are active in the cells of an organism. Once you know the likely expression inside of a cell, you can know what to expect in terms of function.
Gene expression profiling is also used to discover the effects of drugs or other molecules on cell function. You can hypothesize how a cell will react to the introduction of a molecule that could alter how it interprets genetic data, which proteins it builds, etc. Scientists use this method to discover how cells react when a drug is introduced into the body or whether a drug can remove toxins from cells exposed to specific molecules.
Scientists and medical experts are also using gene expression in research efforts. Diagnosis is a particular field of interest because, for example, expression profiling can spot which cells are showing as cancerous or, even more exciting, which cells are more likely to become cancerous cells because of certain behaviors or markers.
Semax and Gene Expression Profiling
The peptide N-acetyl Semax was developed in Russia. In research conducted in rats, scientists found that Semax stimulates a number of molecular mechanisms involved in gene transcription. In animal models, Semax prompted changes in how genes expressed related to blood vessel function in the brain and spinal cord to help with things like smooth muscle migration and red blood cell formation. It promoted the growth of new blood vessels in what proved to be neuroprotective properties in the setting of stroke. Overall, it indicated that Semax helped with the survival of neurons and the stability of the mitochondria.
Understanding how a cell expresses any given number of genes delivers helpful information on how the cell works and potential insights into how specific sequences affect proteins built and how they affect overall health in an organism. The human genome has around 20,000 protein-coding genes alone, so there is still a lot of room to explore. Hopefully, based on the recent development in biomedical research, we’ll understand how cells act and how we can improve everyone’s health long-term.