Our DNA provides directions on making vital proteins for our growth, development, and overall health.
DNA is a deoxyribonucleic acid, which makes up your biological shelf. DNA is an important unit for not only humans but most other organisms as well. This is because DNA contains our hereditary material and our genes.
Would you please keep reading to learn more about the structure of DNA, what it does, and why it’s so important?
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Table of Contents
What are the bases of DNA?
The DNA is made up of nucleotides. Each nucleotide contains 3 different components: a sugar, a phosphate group, and a nitrogen base.
The sugar in DNA is called deoxyribose, replaced with the phosphate groups, and makes up the “backbone” of the DNA strand.
Each sugar has a nitrogen base attached to it. There are 4 different types of nitrogen bases found in DNA. They include:
- Adenine (A)
- Cytosine (C)
- Guanine (G)
- Thymine (T)
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Where is DNA found?
In a eukaryotic cell, DNA is found within the nucleus. A tiny amount of DNA can also be found in organelles called mitochondria, which are the cell’s powerhouses.
DNA also can be found in organisms like prokaryotic cells. These cells don’t have a nucleus. Instead, in prokaryotic cells, DNA is found tightly coiled in the middle of the cell.
How DNA helps your body grow?
DNA contains the instructions for an organism to grow, develop, and reproduce. These instructions are stored in the sequence of nucleotide base pairs.
Your cells read this code to produce proteins that are essential for your growth and survival. The DNA sequence informs to make a protein that is called a gene.
Each group of 3 bases corresponds to specific amino acids, vital for the building blocks of proteins. Proteins are made up of several sequences of amino acids. Each protein has an individual and unique structure and function in your body.
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Can DNA leave the nucleus?
DNA never leaves the nucleus because it plays an essential role in the cell division process. The nucleus is the only cell part that can cause cell division because genetic information is recorded in the DNA, and DNA permanently stays in the nucleus.
Without DNA, cells could not reproduce. Normally, the nucleus makes copies of DNA, then sections of DNA recombine, and next, the chromosomes divide twice and develop sperm cells.
During which phase is the DNA duplicated?
There are 4 phases of the cell cycle, specifically the G1 phase, S phase, G2 phase, and M phase. During the G1 phase, the cell increases in size. Also, various proteins are synthesized in this phase. During the S phase or synthesis phase, DNA replication or duplication takes place. During the G2 phase, the cell grows until it enters the M phase or mitosis phase. Finally, cell division takes place in the M phase.
Thus, DNA is duplicated in the ‘S’ phase or synthesis phase.
What happens when your cells divide?
Your body cells divide as a natural part of growth and development. So when cell division happens in your body, each new cell must have a complete copy of DNA.
When replication occurs, the two DNA strands split apart. Then, specific cellular proteins use each strand to create a new DNA strand.
When replication is completed, there are 2 double-stranded DNA units. This DNA unit will go into each new cell when division is complete.
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How much DNA do siblings share?
Siblings only share about 50% of the same DNA on average because of recombination. So while biological siblings have the same family members, their genetic code might be different in at least one of the areas in a given DNA test.
Full siblings, on average, share 50% of their DNA of either a mother or a father. Second-degree relatives have around 25% overlap in their human genetic variation. By comparison, Identical twins, which will be of the same sex, share 100% of their DNA.
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DNA damage and mutation
The DNA code is prone to damage. It’s estimated that 10000 DNA damage events occur every day in each of our cells. Damage can occur due to failures in DNA replication, free radicals, and exposure to UV radiation.
But never be afraid! Your cells have specific proteins that can detect and repair many cases of DNA damage. In addition, there are at least 5 major DNA repair pathways in the human body.
Mutations are changes in the DNA sequence. They can sometimes be bad because a change in the DNA code can negatively impact how a protein is made.
If the protein doesn’t work properly, the disease can result. Some diseases that occur due to mutations include cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia. Mutations can also lead to the development of cancer.
Frequently Asked Question
Does DNA leave the nucleus of a eukaryotic cell?
Eukaryotic DNA never leaves the nucleus; instead, it’s transcribed into RNA molecules, which may then travel out of the nucleus. In the cytosol, some RNAs associate with systems called ribosomes, where they direct the synthesis of proteins.
Does the nucleus contain DNA?
Most DNA is found in the cell nucleus but can also find a small part of DNA in the mitochondria (where it is called mitochondrial DNA or mtDNA).
DNA is crucial in our body to our growth, reproduction, and health. It contains the instructions for your cells to produce proteins that affect your body’s many different functions.
Because DNA is so important, its damage or mutations can sometimes lead to the development of disease. However, mutations can be beneficial and contribute to our diversity.
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