You have probably heard of that word when you were in school, or perhaps when your teacher was talking about cells. What came initially to your mind when you heard of that word? Were you actually agog when you heard that word? Here, I will explain what that term means, where it is found, and what it does in your body. With these, you will be able to understand why you are who you really are.
DNA, a short form of Deoxyribonucleic acid, is one of the most famous molecules and the largest known protein molecule found in the body. DNA is a molecule which contains the genetic makeup or instructions of the development, growth, and functioning of all living things. No two human can have similar DNA. This records the reasons why certain individuals are susceptible to certain diseases and why giraffes are known to have long necks.
This molecule contains each person’s genetic code and provides protein necessary for the functioning of the body. Deoxyribonucleic acid is got from parents, half originating from the father and half originating from the mother. Most times when parents are arguing about the father or mother of a child, they ask that a DNA test be done. Why are they asking that a DNA test be done? The reason is that all the information about you is contained in your DNA.
What is the Structure of the Molecule?
The structure of the DNA molecule is very amazing. It is composed of two-stranded coils, giving it a unique shape known as the double helix — which carries the genetic instructions used in the growth, development, functioning, and reproduction of all living organisms. DNA is made up of molecules called the nucleotides. Each of these molecules (nucleotides) contains a phosphate group, a sugar group called deoxyribose which contains five carbons, and nitrogen bases. There are four different types of nitrogen bases, namely: adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G), and thymine (T). These nitrogen bases are extremely useful in the human body since the order of the bases is what determines the information for building and maintaining an organism.
The double helix structure is like a ladder. The phosphate and sugar molecules make up the sides of the ladder, while the bases make up the rungs. The bases on one side of the rung pair with the bases on the other side of the rung — where adenine (A) pairs with thymine (T), and guanine (G) pairs with cytosine (C).
How Deoxyribonucleic Acid is Packaged
Science has helped us to understand the length of the DNA in the body of living things — it is so long that ordinarily, it won’t be able to fit in the cells. To fit in, the DNA must be coiled and wrapped around proteins called histones. In its coiled state, it is always referred to as chromatin. The work doesn’t stop there — the chromatin has to be condensed over and over through a process called supercoiling. This process moves on to finally package the DNA into structures known as chromosomes. There are 23 pairs of chromosomes (or 46 in total) in the human body and look like the shape of the letter X. These pairs of chromosomes are found in the nucleus of the cell.
A gene is a sequence of the DNA which is made up of the combination of adenine (A), thymine (T), guanine (G), and cytosine (C). These combinations outrightly determine the function of the genes, just as the combination of letters is responsible for the formation of words. There are thousands of known genes in the human body.