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: Prohaska, S.J.; Stadler, P.F.


Theory in Biosciences 127 (2008), No.3, pp.215-221
ISSN: 1431-7613
Journal Article
Fraunhofer IZI ()

In order to describe a cell at molecular level, a notion of a "gene" is neither necessary nor helpful. It is sufficient to consider the molecules (i.e., chromosomes, transcripts, proteins) and their interactions to describe cellular processes. The downside of the resulting high resolution is that it becomes very tedious to address features on the organismal and phenotypic levels with a language based on molecular terms. Looking for the missing link between biological disciplines dealing with different levels of biological organization, we suggest to return to the original intent behind the term "gene". To this end, we propose to investigate whether a useful notion of "gene" can be constructed based on an underlying notion of function, and whether this can serve as the necessary link and embed the various distinct gene concepts of biological (sub)disciplines in a coherent theoretical framework. In reply to the Genon Theory recently put forward by Klaus Scherrer and Jürge n Jost in this journal, we shall discuss a general approach to assess a gene definition that should then be tested for its expressiveness and potential cross-disciplinary relevance.