NATIONAL DNA DAY – It would be so easy for me to write an essay today on this subject but I will keep it short.
DNA, the short form for Deoxyribonucleic Acid (say that 10 times) is nature’s storage system for biological information. It is a molecule that contains genetic information for development, growth, reproduction and function of all living organisms. It usually consists of two entwined molecules in a double helix formation. DNA can even be found in some viruses.
This double helix was discovered on this day in 1953. Sixty years later, the Human Genome Project (HGP) completed its successful mapping of the human genetic blueprint, estimating that there are 20,500 human genes. This looking inward has forever changed biomedical research in the study of disease and human development.
The National Human Genome Research Institute has a terrific website full of DNA information and a link to DNA Day information and activities.
Tweet #DNADay17 to join the conversation.
For me, learning of the Human Genome Project has led to an on-going interest in Epigenetics which literally means above the genes. Epigenetics focuses on the changing expression of genes without underlying changes in DNA.
The website What Is Epigenetics has a great analogy:
“Think of the human life span as a very long movie. The cells would be the actors and actresses, essential units that make up the movie. DNA, in turn, would be the script — instructions for all the participants of the movie to perform their roles. Subsequently, the DNA sequence would be the words on the script, and certain blocks of these words that instruct key actions or events to take place would be the genes. The concept of genetics would be like screenwriting. Follow the analogy so far? Good. The concept of epigenetics, then, would be like directing. The script can be the same, but the director can choose to eliminate certain scenes or dialogue, altering the movie for better or worse. After all, Steven Spielberg’s finished product would be drastically different than Woody Allen’s for the same movie script, wouldn’t it?”
Epigenetics explores how chemical tags related to lifestyle turn genes on and off. Fascinating stuff. Learn about your body from the inside out.