Washington, M. Todd Department of Biochemistry, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa.
- Key concepts of molecular biology
- Areas of research within molecular biology
- Importance of molecular biology
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
The study of structural and functional properties of biological systems, pursued within the context of understanding the roles of the various molecules in living cells and the relationship between them. Molecular biology has three related meanings. (1) In a traditional sense, molecular biology is the study of the means by which genetic information is transmitted and expressed at the level of protein and nucleic acid molecules. When understood this way, molecular biology encompasses areas of research such as DNA replication, DNA repair, transcription, RNA processing, and translation. (2) In a broader sense, molecular biology refers to the study of living things at the level of molecules. When understood this way, molecular biology encompasses fields ranging from cell biology and developmental biology to biochemistry and biophysics. (3) In a narrower sense, molecular biology refers to a set of experimental approaches principally involving recombinant DNA technology, which is used by a wide range of contemporary biologists. This article focuses on the more traditional meaning of the term.
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