As an Amazon affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases at NO cost to you.
What are Genes?
Genes are the building blocks for your body. Some genes give the instruction to make proteins. Proteins tell your body what types of physical characteristics you have. For example, genes determine your hair and eye color. These genetic traits are handed down from generation to generation. Genes are the leading factor in your gene expression.
What is a Gene Expression?
Gene expression is the process by which the instruction in our DNA converts into a functional product, such as a protein.
- When the information stored in our DNA convert into instructions for protein creation or other molecules, it is called gene expression. This is a tightly regulated process that allows a cell to respond to its environment.
- Gene expression acts as an on/off switch to control when proteins are made. It calibrates the protein levels. Therefore, your DNA, gene expression, and genes have a symbiotic relationship. Genes have their own way to express themselves.
How You get Genes to Express?
You can’t buy genes from a department store. You inherit them from your parents. You receive one copy of a gene from each parent. (One from the egg and one from the sperm). Once you receive a pair, your genes divide and copy themselves. This fills your instruction manual. Your manual oversees approximately 20,000-25,000 genes in your body. The next stage is called transcription.
First, there are two key steps involved in making protein, transcription and translation.
- DNA in a gene is copied to produce an RNA transcript called messenger RNA (mRNA).
- This is carried out by an enzyme called RNA polymerase.
- Translation occurs after the messenger RNA (mRNA) carries the transcribed ‘message’ from the DNA to protein-making factories in the cell, called ribosomes.
- Messages carried by the mRNA is read by a carrier molecule called transfer RNA (tRNA).
- The mRNA is read three letters (codon) at a time.
- Each codon specifies a particular amino acid
In molecular biology and genetics, translation is the process in which ribosomes synthesize proteins. This happens after the process of transcription of DNA in the cell’s nucleus. The is a major part of your gene expression. However, any malfunction during this process results in a genetic mutation.
Genetic mutations occur during cell division. Your cells divide and replicate. These mutations are changes in your DNA code. If anything is missing, added or exchanged mutations develop. The field of genetics help identify mutations.
Genetics is the Study of Genetics
Genetics is a field of biology that studies the nature of heredity. It delves into how traits are handed down from one generation to the next. Understanding genetic factors and genetic disorders is important. It helps explain health conditions and the prevention of disease.
The Three Types of Genetic Diseases
The study of genes and genetics is a fast-growing field and is front and center in the scientific community. Moreover, genetic diseases are categorized into three major groups: single-gene, chromosomal, and multifactorial. In addition, there are different genetic types such as the following
Unfortunately, all genetic types are not created equal. There are gene mutations that show up from time to time. Mutations are characterized as genetic defects. This is why genetics is so important. For example, here are four types of genetic mutations:
First, mutations result from errors in DNA replication during cell division. Second, they develop from exposure to mutagen. Third, they are caused by a viral infection. Germline mutations (that occur in eggs and sperm) are passed on to offspring. However, a somatic mutation (that occur in body cells) is not passed on. Some of the most common disorders are as follows:
- Down Syndrome
- Sickle Cell Anemia
- Cystic Fibrosis
Mutations Change Shape
Mutations change the physical characteristics (or phenotype) of an organism. Plus, they impact the way DNA codes the genetic information (genotype). This why genetics makes its mark in the scientific communities. It fascinates all biology enthusiasts, both young and old.
Gregor Mendel: The Father of Genetics
In the 19th century, biologists touted that an organism’s (single-celled life form) traits pass down to its offspring. Therefore, children are a blend of their parent’s characteristics. In addition:
- Heredity was poorly understood
- Concept of a gene did not exist at all
- Austrian monk Gregor Mendel explored inherited traits
- Mendel’s created principles of heredity
- Mendel studied the garden pea
Over eight years, Mendel studied pea traits one at a time. He also cross bred variants to record how traits were passed from one generation to the next. His task involved 28,000 pea plants. Mendel, consequently, recognized patterns of inheritance.
Mendel’s Patterns of Inheritance
Mendel’s study produced astonishing results and he found very similar patterns of inheritance for all seven features he studied. He also identified a consistent mathematical formula. Moreover, his research explained the frequency of each trait, both dominant and recessive traits. Despite all of his findings, his research was ignored by the scientific community during his lifetime. However, today they are recognized genetic influencers.
The Genetic Influencers of the Twentieth Century
The theory of genetics evolved as a field of science after the 1900s. However, genetics did not just revolve around human beings. These theories derived from experiments obtained in fruit flies, bacteria, and viruses. Although the origins of human genetics traces back to the years 1949 to 1959, Mendel’s can be accredited for the study of DNA, genes, and chromosomes that we learn about today.
DNA, Genes and Chromosomes
Your body is made of trillions of cells. Each cell is a copy of a single cell that divides itself to make all of cells in your body. Your cells need instructions to create who you are. DNA, genes, and chromosomes work together to tell your body how to form and function. Humans typically have 23 pairs of chromosomes, or 46 chromosomes in total. Chromosomes are made of long strands of DNA, which contain all the body’s genes.
DNA, genes, and chromosomes work together to create a whole human being. Chromosomes carry DNA in cells. However, DNA’s responsibility is to build and maintain your human structure. Genes are segments of your DNA. They give you physical characteristics that make you unique. Together, DNA, genes, and chromosomes, make up a complete instruction manual that tells your cells how to behave. In essence, your DNA is your life’s blueprint.
What is DNA?
Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is the material that exists in every cell in your body. It holds your genetic code. Plus, it makes up your body’s instruction manual. There are 4 basic chemical bases.
What is DNA Made of?
DNA has a language that it uses to write your instruction manual (a code). For example, four chemical bases make up your DNA structure including:
- Adenine (A)
- Cytosine (C)
- Thymine (T)
- Guanine (G)
These four bases arrange themselves in order to form “words” in your instruction manual.
DNA constantly replicates itself. It makes hand-written copies of your body’s instruction manual using chunks of bases that form the words. There are an estimated 3 billion bases in a human’s body. About 99% of those bases are the same in every person. The remaining 1% is what makes you unique. In fact, DNA has a specific location.
Where is DNA Located?
DNA is found in each cell in the body. Most of your DNA resides in the nucleus (center) of each cell. However, some DNA lives in mitochondria (little organelles) inside of your cells. This mitochondrion produces energy. Let’s break it down. Organelles are specialized structures that perform various jobs inside cells. They keep the cells alive. The mitochondria have its own characteristics:
- Mitochondria produces energy.
- It is an organic chemical found in all forms of life
- Molecular unit of currency
- It powers your metabolism
- Stores calcium
- Responsible for heat production
Another aspect of DNA is ribonucleic acid called RNA. It plays a significant role in our lives. RNA is also found in plants.
What is Ribonucleic Acid
Ribonucleic acid (RNA) is present in all living cells. Its principal role is to act as a messenger. It carries instructions from DNA to control the synthesis of proteins. However, in some viruses RNA, rather than DNA, carries the genetic information. Unlike DNA, RNA is single-stranded. Check out some of the characteristics of RNA:
- Carries a broad range of functions
- Translate genetic information into molecular machines
- Regulate activity of the genes during development
- Function in cellular differentiation and changing environments
- RNA is a unique polymer
- Found in the nucleus and in the cytoplasm.
Genetics – Your Body’s Instruction Manual
Your genetics (DNA, genes, and chromosomes) write your body’s instruction manual by copying the original document word for word. During this process, there is a lot of room for error. For instance, your cells might skip a page or a chapter during the process. If you have an error (genetic mutation), your instruction manual gives your body the wrong directions.
What Tests Check for Mutations?
Genetic testing use samples of your blood, skin, hair, or a fetus’s amniotic fluid to identify changes to your genes, chromosomes, or proteins in your body. These tests also pinpoint specific genetic conditions and identify mutated genes. Testing lets you know if your unborn child is at risk for a genetic condition.
Genetics and Generational Patterns
The study of genes and genetics are extremely important. Taking time to learn about your heritage. It helps you understand your connection to past generations. Also, it tells you how you become who you are. In fact, genetics gives us insight into how intergenerational characteristics, behavior, traits, and diseases are handed down. It answers the “whys”- why you have red hair, why you have green eyes or why you have dimples.
Final Take Home
Sometimes twins run in families. They are in the bloodline. Learning your/our family history is quintessential. It helps us make the decision to stay healthy. Also, it is important to bring your family history to your healthcare provider. If your dad is a heavy smoker and develops lung cancer, you choose to go the opposite route. You break unhealthy patterns and behaviors and lead a healthier, happier life. In essence, you offer generational health to the next generation.
Please feel free to share this information with whoever you choose. Also, leave your questions, comments, and feedback in the comment section below. I’ll get back you ASAP. I value your input. We are in this together.