Last updated date: 13-Feb-2023
Originally Written in English
All you need to know about DNA!
What is DNA?
If you ever wondered what DNA stands for - this is it: deoxyribonucleic acid.Humans and nearly all other species are carrying their genetic information in their DNA.
The most common DNA definition is an organic chemical with a complex molecular structure, playing an important part in the transmission of inherited traits in all prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells and multiple viruses.
Is DNA a molecule?
In other words, DNA is scientifically considered a molecule that holds the biological instructions that give each species its individuality.
Where is DNA located?
All of an individual’s cells is where DNA is found. Most DNA is found in the cell nucleus (where it is known as nuclear DNA), but there is also a small quantity of DNA in the mitochondria (where it is called mitochondrial DNA or mtDNA). Cellular organelles called mitochondria transform the energy from food into a form that can be utilized by cells. Adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C), and thymine (T) are the chemical bases making up the code that stores the information in DNA. DNA nucleotides link up to form units referred to as base pairs, A with T and C with G. A sugar and a phosphate molecule are also joined to each base. A nucleotide comprises a base, a sugar, and a phosphate. The double helix is a spiral formed by two long strands of nucleotides. The base pairs serve as the ladder's rungs, while the sugar and phosphate molecules are the ladder's vertical side rails in the double helix shape.
The ability of DNA to replicate, or generate duplicates of itself, is a very important characteristic. The blueprint for replicating the base sequence can be found in each of the double helix's DNA strands. When cells divide, this is crucial because each new cell needs an exact replica of the DNA found in the old cell.
The DNA molecule is composed of two strands that come together to create a double helix, meaning that a double helix is a shape that two strands of the macromolecule DNA take when they twist around a shared axis. The nitrogenous base pairs that make up the base pairs on the rungs and the alternating sugar and phosphate groups that make up the sides of the ladder give the double helix its ladder-like appearance. DNA molecules can be hundreds of thousands to millions of base pairs long. Two strands of nucleotides make up a DNA molecule's double helix-shaped structure.
Each DNA strand is a polynucleotide made up of nucleotide-like building blocks. The nucleotide is made of a sugar molecule, a phosphate group, and a nitrogenous base. Deoxyribose is the name of the sugar found in DNA's nucleotides; while DNA is an acronym for deoxyribonucleic acid. Ribose is a distinct sugar that is used by RNA molecules. The sugar-phosphate backbone of the DNA strand is formed by covalent connections that connect one nucleotide's sugar to the phosphate group of the following nucleotide. A nitrogenous base is an organic compound with nitrogen in it and base-like chemical characteristics.
A DNA molecule's double helix is composed of DNA nitrogenous bases that are arranged in a certain way on each of its two strands. The DNA base pairing rules are that cytosine pairs with guanine while adenine pairs with thymine. Hydrogen bonds connect the bases on each strand to the bases on the other strand, although different bases have various chemical makeups. Both thymine and cytosine, as well as uracil in RNA are pyrimidines with one ring. Purines, which have two rings, include adenine and guanine. Adenine and thymine form two and cytosine and guanine form three hydrogen bonds when the pyrimidines pair with the purines.
DNA vs Genes
DNA genes are DNA segments that contain the protein-encoding information, being defined as unique nitrogenous base sequences that encode certain proteins or regulatory RNA molecules. Later, the genes' mRNA molecules are translated into proteins.
Although genes are primarily responsible for what DNA does, they only make up roughly 1% of DNA (in humans). Sequences of nitrogenous bases that do not contain instructions for RNA production divide genes from one another referred to as intergenic areas. There are areas of non-coding DNA called introns even within genes.
DNA vs Chromosome
A chromosome is a lengthy collection of DNA molecules that makes up a portion of an organism's entire genetic code. A fundamental molecule called DNA is responsible for carrying all living things' genetic code. Histones are specialized proteins that help pack DNA into chromosomes.
The amount of base pairs and genes on chromosomes might differ significantly. Chromosome 1, the longest chromosome in human cells, is approximately 249 million base pairs long and contains 2000–2100 unique genes. The shortest human chromosome, chromosome 21, has 48 million base pairs and between 200 and 300 genes on it. Prokaryotic cells generally contain fewer genes and shorter chromosomes. For instance, the genome of the bacteria Carsonella rudii contains only 159,662 base pairs and 182 genes.
Who discovered DNA?
In the late 1800s, the Swiss biologist Frederich Miescher made the first observation of DNA. But it took nearly a century after that discovery for scientists to figure out the DNA molecule's structure and understand its crucial role in biology. For many years, researchers argued over which molecule contained the genetic code for life. The common agreement was that a molecule like DNA was too basic to fulfill such a vital part. Instead, they asserted that proteins' greater complexity and variety of forms made them more likely to do this task.
Owing to the work of James Watson, Francis Crick, Maurice Wilkins, and Rosalind Franklin, the significance of DNA was discovered in 1953. The scientists discovered the double helix shape of DNA, a structure that enables it to transmit biological information from one generation to the follwing, by examining X-ray diffraction patterns and developing models.
Why DNA is important?
What DNA means reflects that human development, reproduction, and health all depend on it. DNA has the instructions needed for the cells to make the proteins that have an impact on a variety of bodily activities and processes. Due to the significance of DNA, damage or DNA mutations can occasionally lead to disease emergence.
- DNA polymerase
DNA polymerase's function is to efficiently and properly replicate the genome in order to maintain the genetic code and ensure that it is faithfully passed down through the generations. Given the vastness of the genome and its ongoing exposure to external and endogenous DNA-damaging chemicals, this is not an easy process. In order to maintain the integrity of the genome, many DNA repair processes work in cells. DNA polymerases play a crucial part in the majority of these pathways in addition to their function in replication. It is hardly unexpected that cells in all creatures include numerous highly specialized DNA polymerases, most of which have only lately been found, given the number and complexity of DNA transactions that depend on DNA polymerase activity. At least 15 DNA polymerases have now been identified in humans, 8 in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and 5 in Escherichia coli.
- DNA ligase function
One of the enzymes essential to the process of DNA replication in cells is ligase. A phosphodiester bond is created between the nucleotides on one strand of a double-stranded DNA molecule as a result of DNA ligase's catalytic action. The 5' phosphate group of one chain and the nearby 3' -OH group of another can be joined together covalently by DNA ligase. In addition to joining nucleotides during DNA replication, this process is essential for fixing DNA damage.
In genetic engineering, DNA ligase is used to create recombinant DNA. The same restriction enzymes are used to cut two sections of DNA, maybe a plasmid and genomic DNA. Due to the unequal DNA cleavage caused by various restriction enzymes, sticky ends are formed. The plasmid and genomic DNA's complementary sticky ends can then be joined by ligase to form a new double-stranded DNA sequencing.
DNA vs RNA
Perhaps the most significant molecules in cell biology are deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and ribonucleic acid (RNA), which store and read the genetic information that is the basis of all life. Both are linear polymers made up of sugars, phosphates, and bases, but they differ in a few significant ways. These differences allow the two molecules to cooperate and perform their fundamental functions.
- DNA and RNA differences
Considering DNA vs RNA structure, while RNA is single-stranded, DNA typically consists of two distinct strands linked together. RNA has hundreds of nucleotides compared to millions for DNA, making DNA significantly larger than RNA. While some DNA is found in the mitochondria, most DNA is found in the nucleus. The cytoplasm, ribosomes, and occasionally the nucleus all contain RNA. Additionally, as previously mentioned, Adenine, Guanine, Cytosine, and Thyamine are the four nitrogenous bases found in DNA, while Thyamine is replaced by Uracil in RNA.
- DNA and RNA similarities
DNA and RNA are both made up of monomers called nucleotides, and both of these molecules have four nitrogenous bases. A phosphate backbone is present in both the DNA and RNA molecules, where bases are attached.
How DNA replicates?
DNA replication represents the process through which cells make copies of the genome's DNA. A cell must first copy (or duplicate) its entire genome before it can divide, ensuring that each daughter cell has a complete genome upon division. One of DNA's most astounding tricks is likely DNA replication, as every cell has all the DNA information that is required to create every other cell. From a single cell at the beginning, there are eventually trillions of cells formed after completing the DNA replication steps. Additionally, every piece of information present in a cell must be precisely copied during the process of cell division.
Therefore, DNA is a molecule that can be copied to create almost exact duplicates of itself. DNA polymerases, which are molecules dedicated solely to copying DNA, are also used in replication. A single human cell needs several hours to complete the process of duplicating its whole DNA. Once all of the DNA has been replicated at the conclusion of this process, the cell will actually have twice as much DNA as it requires. The cell can then divide and parcel this DNA into the daughter cell, resulting in the daughter cell and the parental cell being nearly genetically identical in many cases.
DNA replication occurs during the phase known as the “S-stage” of interphase. The opening of the double helix and separation of the DNA strands, priming of the template strand, and construction of the new DNA segment are the three main phases in replication. The DNA double helix's two strands uncoil at a specific spot known as the origin during separation.
Life could not exist since existing creatures couldn't reproduce and replace themselves without the copying of DNA. The information contained in DNA is essential to life. The information would not be passed on and life would end without DNA replication, which is the main reason why DNA replication is important.
How DNA test is done?
DNA testing is another name for genetic testing. It is a type of test that can spot alterations in an individual’s body's genes, chromosomes, or proteins. One’s blood, skin, hair, tissue, or amniotic fluid may be used as samples for genetic testing. If one has a genetic condition, the test might be able to confirm it or rule it out and the risks of acquiring or passing on a genetic condition may also be determined by this test. Among the different genetic tests are those that look at genes, chromosomes and proteins.
- Gene tests examine one’s DNA to look for changes (mutations) that could lead to a genetic disorder or raise the risk of developing one. One gene, a few genes, or the entire DNA can be examined using gene tests.
- The chromosomes, or lengthy strings of DNA, are examined during chromosomal examinations. They search for gene order alterations that might be the root of a genetic disorder. An additional copy of a chromosome is one of the modifications that are being monitored.
- Protein tests look for the byproducts of cellular chemical reactions by analyzing enzyme activity in cells. A genetic issue may result from DNA changes that are causing problems with the proteins.
In order to perform the test, the doctor will take a blood sample, amniotic fluid, skin, hair, or tissue. For DNA test while pregnant, the fluid that surrounds the growing child (fetus) during pregnancy is called amniotic fluid. The doctor will send the sample to a lab for analysis and technicians at the lab will check for modifications to the genes, chromosomes, or proteins.
The majority of genetic tests have negligible physical risks. There is a very slight chance that one could miscarry during prenatal testing. This is so that a sample of the amniotic fluid from the developing baby may be used for the test.
Financial and emotional risks from genetic testing are more significant, as one could feel furious, terrified, depressed, anxious, or guilty if they receive unexpected results. Furthermore, the price of genetic testing might range from hundreds to thousands of dollars. The price of genetic testing might be covered by insurance. However, it frequently varies based on the kind of exam and its purpose.
Additionally, not all potential genetic disorders are revealed by genetic testing, nor are they all completely correct. Additionally, they might not explain how severe the symptoms might be or when a certain hereditary issue might manifest. One’s DNA test does not always yield clear-cut results. Healthcare professionals will interpret the results based on the type of DNA test, medical history, and family history. They will then discuss the precise results with the patient. There could be any of the following results:
- Positive- A genetic mutation known to cause a disease was discovered in the lab if your DNA test yielded a positive result. This could support a diagnosis, show that the person is a carrier for the illness, or show they have a higher chance of contracting it.
- Negative- A genetic mutation in the DNA known to cause the disease wasn't discovered by the lab if the DNA test yielded a negative result. This could rule out a diagnosis, show that the individual is not a disease carrier, or show that they don't have a higher chance of getting the illness.
- Uncertain- If the results of the DNA test are unclear, the lab might have discovered a genetic mutation. However, they were unable to gather enough data to establish whether it is normal or disease-causing. This is due to the fact that everyone's DNA undergoes typical, natural modifications that have no impact on their health.
Sometimes only a few days are how long DNA test results take to be obtained. Results of prenatal tests are typically provided fairly rapidly. The results of other tests are not available for several weeks. The precise timing of your test findings will be disclosed by the healthcare practitioner. In order to find DNA diagnostic centers close t one’s location, it is usually enough to search for “DNA testing near me”.
Are DNA tests accurate? Can the DNA test be wrong?
Genetic tests are accurate according to two criteria. Analytical validity examines a DNA test's ability to determine whether or not a particular gene is mutated reliably. Clinical validity denotes if a mutation is connected to a particular illness or condition. Federal and/or state standards are applied to all laboratories that conduct DNA tests. The specifications are made to guarantee the precision of genetic tests.
Which DNA test is best?
To get DNA health testing done, one should look for a provider or genetic counselor in their area. However, they can purchase a DNA test kit directly from a DNA testing company if they are unable to do so through a healthcare professional. They are known as DTC genetic tests. The finest DNA test kits include clear explanations of the scientific principles underlying their tests, but using them carries some risk because one might not be able to discuss the results with anyone physically. They should get in touch with their doctor if testing positive for a genetic disorder or discover that they are more likely than average to get an illness.
DNA Ancestry tests can easily be ordered online. Once the DNA Ancestry kits arrive, one should also create a unique Ancestry account. The tube provided in the kit should be filled with saliva, well-shaken and mailed to DNA Ancestry. After analyzing the samples in the lab, the results will be sent back.
How much DNA do half siblings share?
Full siblings often share around 50% of their DNA, whereas half siblings typically share about 25%. Since recombination would scramble the DNA differently for each offspring, the precise amount might differ significantly.
Other facts about DNA
- The process of creating an RNA copy of a gene's DNA sequence is known as DNA transcription in the context of genomics. The DNA-encoded protein information for the gene is carried by this copy, known as messenger RNA (mRNA).
- DNA extraction is a technique used to separate DNA from cell membranes, proteins, and other biological components from a sample using physical and/or chemical processes.
- A typical laboratory method for identifying, measuring, and purifying nucleic acid fragments is DNA electrophoresis. The negatively charged nucleic acids are made to migrate toward the positive electrode when samples are placed into wells of an agarose or acrylamide gel and exposed to an electric field.
Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is defined as a molecule that stores the genetic information (biological instructions) required for all living organisms to develop, reproduce, and function. DNA is made up of two connected strands that are entangled with one another and has a double-helix structure. The most typical design has the appearance of a winding ladder or spiral staircase.