The making of individual differences
The making of individual differences

This free course is available to start right now. Review the full course description and key learning outcomes and create an account and enrol if you want a free statement of participation.

Free course

The making of individual differences

5.3 Transcription factors

At various places in this course, reference is made to new proteins being made, or to genes being switched on. The control of gene transcription is a hugely complex area and well beyond the scope of this course. However, it is helpful to know that for any gene to be switched on, for any new protein to be made (or an old protein replaced), an appropriate transcription factor must be present, and it must couple with an appropriate part of the DNA. In biological terms a transcription factor is a molecule which attaches to a specific part of the genome and allows a gene to be transcribed. In other words the transcription factor is the signal for the transcription of a particular gene, and the production of a specific protein.

Activity 12

A transcription factor was described, but not named, in Section 5.2. Of what was it composed?


The transcription factor was composed of the hormone oestradiol and its receptor.

Very often there are several components to a transcription factor, and they must all be present for it to work, for transcription to take place.


Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to university level study, find out more about the types of qualifications we offer, including our entry level Access courses and Certificates.

Not ready for University study then browse over 900 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus