An operon is a method of organizing genetic material in prokaryotes, in which cistrons (genes, transcription units) encoding proteins working together or sequentially are combined under one (or several) promoters. Such a functional organization allows more efficient regulation of the expression (transcription) of these genes.
The prokaryote operon contains structural genes and regulatory elements (not to be confused with the regulatory gene). Structural genes encode proteins that sequentially carry out the biosynthesis of a substance. These genes can be one, two or more. They are closely linked to each other and, most importantly, during transcription they work as a single gene: they synthesize one common mRNA molecule, which only then splits into several mRNAs corresponding to individual genes. Regulatory elements are as follows:
– promoter – the binding site of the enzyme that transcribes DNA – RNA polymerase. It is the place where transcription begins. It is a short sequence of several tens of DNA nucleotides with which RNA polymerase specifically binds. In addition, the promoter determines which of the two DNA strands will serve as a template for mRNA synthesis;
– operator – regulatory protein binding site;
– terminator – the site at the end of the operon, signaling the termination of transcription.
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