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Part IV: Eukaryotes 4
I. An Introduction to the Molecular Basis of Cancer.

The term molecular biology was first used in 1945 by
William Astbury who was referring to the study of the
chemical and physical structure of biological
macromolecules. By that time, biochemists had discovered
many fundamental intracellular chemical reactions. The
importance of specific reactions and of protein structure in
defining the numerous properties of cells was also appreciated.
However, the development of molecular biology had to await
the understanding that the most advantageous approaches
would be made by studying “simple” systems such as bacteria
and bacteriophages which yield information about the basic
biological processes more readily than animal cells.
BASIC REQUIREMENTS TO BE MET BY GENETIC MATERIAL
According to the molecular biologists certain requirements must be met by any molecule if it is
to be qualified as the substance that transmits genetic information from one generation to next. These
requirements extend directly from what is known about the continuity of species and the process of
evolutionary change.
1. The genetic material must contain biologically useful information that is maintained in a stable
form.
2. The genetic information must be reproduced and transmitted faithfully from cell to cell or from
generation to generation.
3. The genetic material must be able to express itself so that other biological molecules, and
ultimately cells and organisms, will be produced and maintained. Implicit in this requirement is that
some mechanism be available for decoding, or translating, the information contained in the genetic
material into its “productive” form


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