Genetic information is encoded in the molecular structure of nucleic acids in the form of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and ribonucleic acid (RNA). Most organisms carry their genetic information in DNA, with the exception of some viruses, which use RNA. Within the cell, genetic information is transported within the chromosomes, which are comprised of DNA and associated proteins. Human cells possess 46 chromosomes, each of which carries a large number of genes. Through meiosis, pairing and separation of replicated chromosomes occurs during the division of sex cells to form gametes. Many genes can encode traits by specifying the structure of a protein. Genetic information is transcribed from DNA into RNA and then translated into the amino acid sequence of a protein. Specific traits are acquired through several patterns of inheritance that affect the developing embryo.
The process by which DNA codes for RNA, which in turn codes for proteins, is know as the central dogma of molecular biology. RNA synthesis from DNA occurs through a process known as transcription. Following transcription, protein synthesis from RNA is completed through translation. During transcription, a nucleotide strand from a single strand of the DNA double helix, known as the template strand, is used as the template for RNA synthesis. This means that in any section of DNA, only one nucleotide strand carriers the genetic information transcribed into RNA in most cases. A transcription unit, which is a portion of DNA that codes for a specific RNA molecule as well as the sequences necessary for its transcription, contains a promoter, an RNA coding sequence, and a terminator. The promoter, a DNA sequence which the transcription apparatus recognizes and binds, indicat...
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...rms of RNA. As the cell divides, the descendants inherit this turned-on gene as well as the different forms of RNA. Large quantities of RNA are inherited during egg formation in the mother, which affects how genes are switched on when the egg develops into an embryo. Although sperm carry less RNA, and epigenetic effect on offspring is still possible. DNA is used to store genetic information, which is then passes from parents to offspring. Changes in a gene’s DNA sequence can change proteins by altering the amino acid sequence, which can directly affect one’s phenotype. Once transcribed into RNA, some molecules can silence specific genes, which can affect cell differentiation during embryo development. These changes are due to the way the genes are expressed or silenced. These changes will remain stable during cell differentiation when each type of cell multiplies.
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