<molecular biology> Groups of bacterial genes with a common promotor, that are controlled as a unit and produce mRNA as a single piece, polycistronic messenger. An operon consists of two or more structural genes, which usually code for proteins with related metabolic functions and associated control elements that regulate the transcription of the structural genes. The first described example was the lac operon.

This entry appears with permission from the Dictionary of Cell and Molecular Biology

(11 Mar 2008)

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