An essential part of an organism is something that the organism cannot continue to be alive or reproduce without. For instance, mitochondria are essential to most eukaryotic cells. Genes can also be considered with regards to their essentiality. Essentiality is an important property in the context of pathogens, since drugs acting on specific genes that are not essential are less likely to be an effective treatment than those that are. In contrast, genes that are essential are in general thought to be better drug targets.
^ Lill R, Fekete Z, Sipos K, Rotte C (October 2005). “Is there an answer? Why are mitochondria essential for life?”. IUBMB Life. 57 (10): 701–3. doi:10.1080/15216540500305860. PMID 16223711.
^ Doyle MA, Gasser RB, Woodcroft BJ, Hall RS, Ralph SA (2010). “Drug target prediction and prioritization: using orthology to predict essentiality in parasite genomes”. BMC Genomics. 11: 222. doi:10.1186/1471-2164-11-222. PMC 2867826. PMID 20361874.
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