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Nearly a century ago, biologists found that if they separated an invertebrate animal embryo into two parts at an early stage of its life, it would survive and develop as two normal embryos. This led them to believe that the cells in the early embryo are undetermined in the sense that each cell has the potential to develop in a variety of different ways. Later biologists found that the situation was not so simple. It matters in which plane the embryo is cut. If it is cut in a plane different from the one used by the early investigators, it will not form two whole embryos. A debate arose over what exactly was happening. Which embryo cells are determined, just when do they become irreversibly committed to their fates, and what are the “morphogenetic determinants” that tell a cell what to become? But the debate could not be resolved because no one was able to ask the crucial questions in a form in which they could be pursued productively. Recent discoveries in molecular biology, however, have opened up prospects for a resolution of the debate. Now investigators think they know at least some of the molecules that act as morphogenetic determinants in early development. They have been able to show that, in a sense, cell determination begins even before an egg is fertilized. Studying sea urchins, biologist Paul Gross found that an unfertilized egg contains substances that function as morphogenetic determinants. They are located in the cytoplasm of the egg cell; i.e., in that part of the cell’s protoplasm that lies outside of the nucleus. In the unfertilized egg, the substances are inactive and are not distributed homogeneously. When the egg is fertilized, the substances become active and, presumably, govern the behavior of the genes they interact with. Since the substances are unevenly distributed in the egg, when the fertilized egg divides, the resulting cells are different from the start and so can be qualitatively different in their own gene activity. The substances that Gross studied are maternal messenger RNA’s—products of certain of the maternal genes. He and other biologists studying a wide variety of organisms have found that these particular RNA’s direct, in large part, the synthesis of histones, a class of proteins that bind to DNA. Once synthesized, the histones move into the cell nucleus, where section of DNA wrap around them to form a structure that resembles beads, or knots, on a string. The beads are DNA segments wrapped around the histones; the string is the intervening DNA. And it is the structure of these beaded DNA strings that guide the fate of the cells in which they are located.
2. It can be inferred from the passage that the morphogenetic determinants present in the early embryo are (A) located in the nucleus of the embryo cells (B) evenly distributed unless the embryo is not developing normally (C) inactive until the embryo cells become irreversibly committed to their final function (D) identical to those that were already present in the unfertilized egg (E) present in larger quantities than is necessary for the development of a single individual
5.It can be inferred from the passage that the initial production of histones after an egg is fertilized takes place (A) in the cytoplasm (B) in the maternal genes (C) throughout the protoplasm (D) in the beaded portions of the DNA strings (E) in certain sections of the cell nucleus
6. It can be inferred from the passage that which of the following is dependent on the fertilization of an egg? (A) Copying of maternal genes to produce maternal messenger RNA’s (B) Synthesis of proteins called histones (C) Division of a cell into its nucleus and the cytoplasm (D) Determination of the egg cell’s potential for division (E) Generation of all of a cell’s morphogenetic determinants
9. Which of the following circumstances is most comparable to the impasse biologists encountered in trying to resolve the debate about cell determination (lines 12-18)? (A) The problems faced by a literary scholar who wishes to use original source materials that are written in an unfamiliar foreign language (B) The situation of a mathematician who in preparing a proof of a theorem for publication detects a reasoning error in the proof (C) The difficulties of a space engineer who has to design equipment to function in an environment in which it cannot first be tested (D) The predicament of a linguist trying to develop a theory of language acquisition when knowledge of the structure of language itself is rudimentary at best (E) The dilemma confronting a foundation when the funds available to it are sufficient to support one of two equally deserving scientific projects but not both