Genes are little codes found in our cells that make up who we are. This lesson covers where genes are located, how we get our genes, and the functions of genes.
From Cells to Genes
The phrase ‘you are what you eat’ loses its credibility when ‘genes’ come into play. Genes are the little tiny codes that actually make us who we are. These tiny little codes are all over our body telling it how to make proteins.Let’s start big and work our way down.
Genes are found in our cells. Cells are the building blocks of all life. Every living organism is made out of cells. Each cell has an important and unique job to do. The nucleus is considered the brain of the cell because that is where the cell gets all of its information and instructions from.
Inside the nucleus of human cells are 46 chromosomes, actually found as 23 pairs of chromosomes. Each chromosome is made of 1 very tightly coiled strand of ‘deoxyribonucleic acid’, or DNA. The DNA is tightly wrapped around proteins like a thread around a spool. They need to be compacted or else they would not fit into the nucleus.
DNA is a long structure made up of four types of bases: adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine, represented by the letters A, C, G, and T. These four bases create many different sequences that each code for something. This code goes on and on and has all of the information and instructions for each cell to form into the proper structure and to perform the proper function.
Genes are sections of the DNA that hold the code to make a single molecule, usually a protein.So genes are a tiny sequence on a strand of DNA that holds a code. This code tells the cell what type of protein to make. Genes are small sections of DNA. A single strand of DNA is bundled together with some protein to form chromosomes. These chromosomes are found in the nucleus of the cell.
Cells are what make up all living things.
Functions of Genes
Genes are little codes that hold the instructions on how to make a specific protein. Why is this so important? Proteins are the base of everything in our bodies. Proteins make up everything from our eyes to toes and things in between such as our blood.
It’s estimated that humans have around 20,000 to 25,000 different genes. Everybody has basically identical genes; but don’t worry, we’re still unique by about 1%. Only about 1% of our genes are slightly different than those of the person sitting next to us (unless they are our identical twin). The genes with these slight differences are called alleles.Like chromosomes, genes too are found in pairs.
We receive our genes from our parents. We get one part of each pair from each parent. This passing down of genes is called heredity.
In other words, we inherit our genes from our parents.Please recall that genes code for specific proteins. These proteins each give us a trait. Therefore, genes ultimately code for our traits.
Traits are specific features that belong to us such as eye color, height, hair texture and skin color.An example of how we inherit our different traits is when our mom may give us an allele that codes for green eyes. However, if our dad gives us a brown-eye gene, then our eyes will be brown.
Whichever gene actually prevails is another topic of study, but just note that even though your eyes are brown, you still could pass the green-eye gene to your offspring because your mom gave it to you.
Genes are small sections of code on a long strand of DNA. Each gene tells a cell how to make a specific protein which ultimately gives us our traits, both the unique traits that make us individuals and those that make us the same as others.
Genes come in pairs, with one part of each set coming from each of our parents. DNA is often called the blueprints; genes could be considered all of the specific measurements on those blueprints.