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Genetics Overview
written by Michael
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Cells need proteins to perform the duties necessary for them to function properly. Cells make their own proteins by lugging amino acids together. These are the 20 amino acids that cells use to make proteins.
Alanine (Ala) Glutamine (Gln) Leucine (Leu) Serine (Ser)
Arginine (Arg) Glutamin Acid (Glu) Lysine (Lys) Threonine (Thr)
Asparagine (Asn) Glycine (Gly) Methionine (Met) Tryptophan (Trp)
Aspartic Acid (Asp) Histidine (His) Phenylalanine (Phe) Tyrosine (Tyr)
Cysteine (Cys) Isoleucine (IIe) Proline (Pro) Valine (Val)
Joining amino acids together (eg Val-Arg-Leu-Leu) makes a protein. Amino acids are joined together by what chemists call a peptide bond. Therefore a protein is also known as a polypeptide.
proteinThe information on how to assemble proteins are stored in each cells nucleus within chromosomes. Humans have 46 chromosomes or 23 pairs. Within each pair one chromosome comes from our father and one from our mother. Humans have around 30,000 genes stored within these 46 chromosomes. These genes contain the instructions for how to make all the proteins that our cells can produce. Therefore some genes should be exactly the same for all of us such as genes which make insulin and other essential proteins. Other genes make us unique such as those which control our height, eye color etc.
In order for the cell to make a protein it uses transcription factors which are molecules that bind to particular sites in the nucleus. This then starts the process of copying a gene to RNA. Once the gene is copied to RNA it is taken outside the nucleus and ribosomes use the RNA information to create the protein. Within the RNA is an instruction as to how many copies of this protein to build. This number is reduced each time a new protein is created. When the number reaches zero the RNA is destroyed.

DNA can become mutated causing either deletions, additions or translocations of DNA. When this occurs the proteins that the cell creates have the wrong amino acids within. This changes their function which means that they no longer perform the tasks that they are designed to do.

These mutations can cause increased expression of a particular genes, or the creation of incorrect responses to cell communication. They can even cause cells to communicate with itself causing excessive growth.

Genes that cause a cell to divide are called proto-oncogenes but genes that have mutated and are no longer functioning properly are called oncogenes. There are another group of genes which inhibit growth and are called tumor suppressor genes. When these genes are mutated then tumors can no longer be effectively suppressed.


The information on this site is not a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with your doctor. Please consult your doctor with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition. Copyright 2001-2010 LMSWEBSITE