Directions for Future Research in Molecular Biology
It is clear that knowledge of the eukaryotic cell is far from our under-standing of lambda phage or E. coli, but our understanding of even these simpler objects is far from complete. Therefore we can perceive three general areas for future research in genetics and molecular biology. In the first, simpler systems in bacteria, yeast, and the fruit fly will be studied in greater depth so that we may understand as much as possible about the physics, chemistry, and biochemistry common to all systems. An ultimate goal of this direction of work is the ability to predict the properties of a protein given its structure and to modify known proteins so that they will fold fold and bind to any desired sequence on a nucleic acid to regulate a cell activity in any way we desire, or possess any reasonable structural or enzymatic property. In the more immediate future, we should learn how to modify known proteins, RNA molecules, or DNA molecules to carry out functions different from, but related to their natural ones.
A second general area of work will be understanding cellular proc-esses. This includes study of the following: the mechanisms used in nature for regulating gene and enzyme activity; the complicated inter-actions between metabolic pathways; and the mechanisms of many functions such as movement, active transport, RNA splicing, cell divi-sion, and receptor function. A third area of future work will be that of understanding organisms as a whole. This will include how cells and tissues develop and differentiate and how they signal to one another and then respond.