I talk about DNA on a regular basis, but many people don’t know much about DNA overall. Here’s a good article about Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA): https://www.genome.gov/genetics-glossary/Deoxyribonucleic-Acid. Most of the article and there are other articles that aren’t as intense or as deep.
DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is the central information storage system of most animals and plants, and even some viruses. The name comes from its structure, which is a sugar and phosphate backbone which have bases sticking out from it–so-called bases. So that “deoxyribo” refers to the sugar and the nucleic acid refers to the phosphate and the bases. The bases go by the names of adenine, cytosine, thymine, and guanine, otherwise known as A, C, T, and G. DNA is a remarkably simple structure. It’s a polymer of four bases–A, C, T, and G–but it allows enormous complexity to be encoded by the pattern of those bases, one after another. DNA is organized structurally into chromosomes and then wound around nucleosomes as part of those chromosomes. Functionally, it’s organized into genes, of which are pieces of DNA, which lead to observable traits. And those traits come not from the DNA itself, but actually from the RNA that is made from the DNA, or most commonly of proteins that are made from the RNA which is made from the DNA. So the central dogma, so-called of molecular biology, is that genes, which are made of DNA, are made into messenger RNAs, which are then made into proteins. But for the most part, the observable traits of eye color or height or one thing or another of individuals come from individual proteins. Sometimes, we’re learning in the last few years, actually, they come from RNAs themselves without being made into proteins–things like micro RNAs. But those still are relatively the exception for accounting for traits.
Christopher P. Austin, M.D.
Previous DNA Saturdays posts: https://upsdownsfamilyhistory.wordpress.com/tag/DNA-Saturdays/