By Aaron D. Levine
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Additional info for Cloning: A Beginner's Guide (Beginner's Guides)
Cells at a glance To understand the cloning process fully, we need not only to understand DNA and the way it codes for proteins but also the structure of the cells within which those proteins operate. Our discussion will focus on eukaryotic cells (the type of cell found in Figure 6 The major structures of eukaryotic cells, the type found in humans and other higher organisms. DNA is located in the nucleus. qxd 4/4/2007 11:42 AM Page 26 26 Cloning: A Beginner’s Guide almost all organisms other than bacteria and blue-green algae).
These proteins bind to specific DNA sequences (called promoters or enhancers) and either facilitate or block the expression of various genes. Modifications in the structure of chromosomes also play an important role in controlling gene expression. For example, small molecules known as methyl groups can attach to DNA and prevent transcription factors from binding at the appropriate locations, thus altering gene expression patterns. We will return to this topic later, when we examine the health problems of cloned animals, many of which are believed to result from faulty control of gene expression.
It is also particularly relevant to cloning because, as we will see in later chapters, many of the health problems that occur in cloned animals are associated with improperly formed placentas. ” This occurs between days fourteen and sixteen, when the cells of the inner cell mass fold in on themselves to create distinct cell layers. These layers eventually form the three primary germ layers found in humans and other mammals: ectoderm, endoderm, and mesoderm. These layers have different developmental fates and their formation during gastrulation marks the first substantial differentiation of the cells from the inner cell mass.