Ok. So I took Genetics about a million college years ago (which is really two real years) and I have discovered over time that I really never had the best understanding of the topic. It is also something that I would add to the list of things that every biologist should know, because I have found that without this knowledge there is a large aspect of biology-ness that I do not completely understand, not to mention the genetics GRE questions that I got wrong. There is one thing, though, that I do remember from that class. It is simply a name: LAC operon. It came up on the practice GRE and when I read the question I thought "Oh!! this phrase!! I have seen this before". Much to my dismay I was unable to shake the cobwebs from my mind and uncover the true meaning of LAC operon. Thank you GRE for sending me on this quest for meaning. OK. LAC operon....
"The lac operon is an operon required for the transport and metabolism of lactose in Escherichia coli and some other enteric bacteria. It consists of three adjacent structural genes, a promoter, a terminator, and an operator. The lac operon is regulated by several factors including the availability of glucose and of lactose. Gene regulation of the lac operon was the first genetic regulatory mechanism to be elucidated and is often used as the canonical example of prokaryotic gene regulation." -wikipedia
OK. So if I had to translate this: It seems like this is dealing with lactose specifically. This is going to deal with the metabolism and transport of lactose in bacteria. Why is it important? It is a prime example of prokaryotic gene regulation.
An now I feel like a simpleton for not understanding this straightforward concept. Well...I do now!