Emerging and evolving concepts in gene essentiality

Nat Rev Genet. 2018 Jan;19(1):34-49. doi: 10.1038/nrg.2017.74. Epub 2017 Oct 16.


Gene essentiality is a founding concept of genetics with important implications in both fundamental and applied research. Multiple screens have been performed over the years in bacteria, yeasts, animals and more recently in human cells to identify essential genes. A mounting body of evidence suggests that gene essentiality, rather than being a static and binary property, is both context dependent and evolvable in all kingdoms of life. This concept of a non-absolute nature of gene essentiality changes our fundamental understanding of essential biological processes and could directly affect future treatment strategies for cancer and infectious diseases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Conserved Sequence
  • Drug Delivery Systems
  • Drug Resistance / genetics
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Gene Editing
  • Gene Regulatory Networks
  • Genes, Essential*
  • Genomics
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Engineering
  • Models, Genetic
  • Synthetic Biology