The definitions used in this glossary of terminology either have been provided by the authors of the articles, or have been extracted wholly or in part, or paraphrased from the following sources: The American Medical Association Encyclopedia of Medicine, Charles B. Clayman, MD, Medical Editor, Random House, New York, 1989; Biotechnology from A to Z, 2d Edition, William Bains, Oxford University Press, New York, New York, 2002; A Dictionary of Genetics, 6th Edition, Robert C. King and William D. Stansfield, Oxford University Press, New York, New York, 2002; Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary, 29th and 30th Editions, W. B. Saunders Company, Philadelphia, 2000, 2003; Genes VII, Benjamin Lewin, Oxford University Press, New York, New York, 2000; The Gale Encyclopedia of Genetic Disorders, Volumes I and II, Stacey L. Blachford, Ed., Thomson Learning, New York, New York, 2002; The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Inc., Springfield, Massachusetts, 1997; Molecular Biology of the Cell, 3rd Edition, Bruce Alberts, et al., Garland Publishing, 1994; The Random House Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged Edition, 1966; Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, 1991.


1. A change in form, quality, or some other characteristic.

2. In genetics, a permanent transmissible change in the genetic material, usually in a single gene.

frameshift mutation - A mutation resulting from an addition or subtraction that is not an exact multiple of 3 base pairs in a coding sequence. From the point of mutation onwards, base triplets (codons) are read out of phase; the reading frame of the gene is changed, and a completely different set of amino acids is made into protein.

loss-of-function mutation - Impairment of the function of a gene caused by mutation.

missense mutation - A mutation that changes a codon so that it codes for a different amino acid.

nonsense mutation - A mutation in which one of the three terminator codons in the mRNA (UAG, amber; UAA, ochre; UGA, umber or opal), used to signal the end of a polypeptide, appears in the middle of a genetic message, causes premature termination of transcription, and releases incomplete, generally nonfunctional polypeptides from the ribosome.

point mutation - A mutation resulting from a change in a single base pair in the DNA molecule, caused by the substitution of one nucleotide for another.

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