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Part 4

Course video 5 of 68

At the dawn of genetics, in the work of Mendel and Morgan, there was a complete void between the genes and the characters they determine.During the first week, we will discuss the relationship between genes and enzymes. We will start with the description of alkaptonuria by Garrod, in 1902, which he called a few years later an inborn error of metabolism. This was the first documented example of a human recessive trait, the first association of a human condition with Mendel’s principles and the first link between a gene and an enzyme. This work and that of Cuénot on mice fur color were essentially forgotten in the biology community in the following decades.After working with great difficulty on the enzymatic cascade that leads to the formation of the pigmented eye of fruit flies, Beadle and Tatum founded the field of biochemical genetics by isolating conditional mutants that affect the synthesis of vitamins and amino acids. This was first done with a mold, and then extended to bacteria. These experiments lead to the “one gene, one enzyme” hypothesis. While the hypothesis is now proven in many cases, the exceptions, including multigene enzymes, structural and enzymatic RNAs have expanded the concept rather than invalidating it.

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