Key Points

• Survival of a multicellular organism requires that different cells assume different functions.

• Genetic information is encoded in the nucleo-tide sequence of DNA. Complementary pairing of purine and pyrimidine bases permits accurate replication and transmission of stored information.

• Synthesis of a complementary strand of RNA is the first step in gene expression.

• The primary RNA transcript is converted to messenger RNA by removal of extraneous intervening sequences and splicing the remaining segments together. Alternate splicing may produce more than one messenger RNA template.

• Synthesis of proteins depends on base pairing of each transfer RNA with the mRNA template and the enzymatic activity of the ribosomes.

• Proteins can change their shape and consequently their activity when bound to other molecules or when covalently modified.

• Cells change their activity in response to signals received from the internal or external environment. The most common means of information exchange is through chemical signals.

• Target cells convert information they receive from their environment to intracellular biochemical reactions that produce changes in cellular behavior.

Essential Medical Physiology, Third Edition

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