How small is DNA

DNA = deoxyribonucleic acid

 

DNA - the blueprint of life

Cells form the basis of our life. These are very small and in most cases you need a microscope to see them. Organisms such as humans but also our animals form collections of many different types of cells. Every cell has a nucleus in which the DNA, i.e. our genetic information, is well stored.

The basis of how living things look and how to function, forms the DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). It is the blueprint, almost like an architect's plan. The DNA is present in every single cell in the body and can be found in the form of chromosomes. In every body cell there are 2 pieces of every chromosome, the chromosome pairs. The dog has 39 pairs of chromosomes, so a total of 78. Of these, 38 pairs are body chromosomes (autosomes) and 1 pair are sex chromosomes (gonosomes). The bitch has two X chromosomes and the male one X and one Y chromosome. The two sex chromosomes determine whether an individual is male or female. If there are 2 of each chromosome, one speaks of a double set of chromosomes (diploid set of chromosomes). All cells of the body, with the exception of the germ cells (egg or sperm), are diploid (double-equipped). This is because a living being is made up of 50% maternal and 50% paternal DNA. The germ cells, which include the egg cells and the sperm, only ever have a single set of chromosomes (haploid set of chromosomes). You are haploid. This has to be the case, because when the egg cell and sperm fuse, each of the two brings 39 chromosomes with them. Both together result in a cell with twice the number of chromosomes, namely 78.

The blueprint of a cell, the DNA, seems to be a simple thing at first glance, as it only consists of the 4 letters A, C, G and T. A piece of cake compared to our alphabet! In fact, there is more to it than that. The 4 letters designate the bases adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine. Two of these bases always belong together and stick together like pieces of a puzzle. As a result, they form a framework called a double helix. The whole thing is comparable to a Velcro fastener that you twirl. The sequence of these 4 letters determines the genetic information including the genes. Genes are certain sections of DNA that are responsible for the expression of certain characteristics, such as hair color. The genes contain the actual information about the body's blueprint and are randomly scattered across all chromosomes. Sometimes a chromosome has more genes and sometimes fewer.

Genes can be of different lengths, so they consist of different numbers of bases. At the moment it is believed that the dog has a total of around 25,000 genes. It has long been believed that DNA that is not occupied by genes - and there is really a lot of it - is a waste of space, which is not true. Many of these areas are important switches and tell genes when to work and when not. Just like a light switch, where the lamp only glows as long as the switch is on. Every gene in a cell is in duplicate (as are the chromosomes), of course, once from the mother and once from the father. The area on the chromosomes where a certain gene can be found is called the gene location or gene locus. However, two identical genes can also be different. Sounds strange, but that's how it is. In such a case one speaks of gene variants or alleles. In dogs, for example, there is a gene that determines the type of hair. The hair can be straight or wavy, depending on which gene variant is present. But both genes determine the nature of the hair.

If something is to be produced in the cell using a gene, there are a lot of helpers who work together and produce so-called proteins. Like on a construction site, these helpers read the plan, i.e. the gene, and build what is needed at the moment. The proteins can take on a wide variety of functions and are all responsible for ensuring that a cell functions properly. Reading this plan is known as a transcription in technical terms.

But all this knowledge does not help if it is not easily applicable! So it's best to stop by and see with your own eyes what, thanks to research and science, everything is possible today using DNA analyzes!

 

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