, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 349-371

Are genes units of inheritance?

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Abstract

Definitions of the term ‘gene’ typically superimpose molecular genetics onto Mendelism. What emerges are persistent attempts to regard the gene as a ‘unit’ of structure and/or function, language that creates multiple meanings for the term and fails to acknowledge the diversity of gene architecture. I argue that coherence at the molecular level requires abandonment of the classical unit concept and recognition that a gene is constructed from an assemblage of domains. Hence, a domain set (1) conforms more closely to empirical evidence for genetic organization of DNA regions capable of transcription and (2) has ontological properties lacking in the traditional unit definition.