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Basics of Genetics. Intro to Health Journalism. DNA: Deoxyribonucleic acid The essence of life. DNA resides in the nucleus of each cell of our bodies. DNA consists of four components that alternate and repeat, making patterns.

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basics of genetics
Basics of Genetics
  • Intro to Health Journalism
not all dna makes genes
Not all DNA makes genes
  • Some of the DNA along the chromosome is “non-coding”
  • It used to be called “junk DNA”
  • Scientists now believe that this non-coding (non-gene) DNA has important signaling functions
and proteins do almost everything in the body
And proteins do almost everything in the body!
  • Hair and nails (keratin)
  • Enzymes that jumpstart chemical reactions in the body
  • Hormones and other chemical messengers
  • Antibodies that fight off invading viruses and bacteria
  • There are hundreds of thousands of different proteins in the body
let s get this straight
Let’s get this straight
  • DNA consists of long chains of four different nucleotides
  • Specific groupings of three nucleotides correspond to one amino acid
  • There are 20 amino acids
  • A protein is a chain made of specific pattern of amino acids
see any similarities
See any similarities?
  • Genes are long strings of nucleotides. A total of four repeating nucleotides make distinct patterns—“spelling” genes
  • Proteins are long strings of amino acids. A total of 20 repeating amino acids make distinct patterns—“spelling” proteins
This new strand contains all the information from the original DNA
  • and can be used to churn out proteins

How do four nucleotides and 20 amino acids spell the instructions for making such a wide variety of differently shaped proteins?

as soon as the protein chain is completed
As soon as the protein chain is completed…

Due to innate attractions and repulsions between these amino acids …

Each protein has a unique shape, perfectly designed to accomplish its specific task in the body
  • So if there is even a tiny MUTATION in the DNA … i.e. if just one nucleotide out of thousands is mistakenly switched for another
  • The entire protein shape will be DIFFERENT
  • Which can lead to serious illness