Wednesday, March 26, 2008

DNA, RNA and Genes

DNA and RNA make amino acids into protein (click here for picture in Wikipedia). The letters in the Wikipedia picture stand for subunits of DNA, RNA and proteins, which I will get to later. DNA is divided into genes and has other areas that don't make genes directly. An overview of the cell making proteins from DNA is in the link at right (Cell).

The Human Genome Project found that humans have about 20-30 thousand genes. This was a surprise, since many thought there would be at least 100,000. The genes are used as a code to make protein. However, there are about 1 million variations of proteins. Therefore, the genes must be regulated so that they can make more than one kind of protein per gene. Now scientists are discovering that proteins themselves and RNA, which copies the DNA, are involved in regulating types and amounts of protein. We will get into details later.

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