Saturday, August 31, 2013

My Favorite Organic Molecule is DNA

DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), organic chemical of complex molecular structure that is found in all prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells and in many viruses. The nucleotide DNA consists of a deoxyribose sugar molecule to which is attached a phosphate group and one of four nitrogenous bases

 phosphate: component of DNA
The study of DNA has developed our knowledge – DNA is the code for life. DNA encodes for proteins which make up every living organism – whether it be plant, animal or bacteria. Understanding what parts of the DNA encode for which proteins is important – by studying DNA we’ve been able to figure out genes responsible for many things – everything from why some flowers are certain colors to which parts of our DNA are responsible for hair color and everything in between. Furthermore by studying DNA, we have been able to figure out much about evolution and how species evolve – in particular sorting out how different plants and animals are related to each other.
Understanding how DNA mutates, changes and replicates is also important, as it can inform us about the underlying mechanisms that cause DNA to change. Figuring out the variations between people that occur in our DNA t is also really interesting – finding where the differences occur in the genome and why DNA varies between people and animals can lead to understanding why people are different and the environmental triggers that can lead to changes in our DNA and consequent function of a gene. And it is has key importance in forensic biology – the sequences of DNA that vary from person to person is what we target when we want to use DNA to identify people.

And finally by studying DNA, we have been able to characterize much about disease. A really well known example of the importance of DNA and knowing about it, has been the discovery of the BRCA gene mutations that increase the risk of breast cancer in women. By being able to understand how DNA replicates, mutates and what the final result of this has really improved our knowledge about biological organisms. Knowledge about DNA is used in many areas of biology, so it has a very important role to play in not only just in understanding the world around us, but also for improving health and conserving the environment.

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