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20% of your DNA does not code for proteins, nor regulate genes.  Scientists don't know what it does!

 

 

DNA GENES:
For Parents & Teachers

 

"Gene here.  I'm back to tell you a bit about me and the rest of the Genes.  We Genes are stretches of DNA and we all have assigned places on the cell's chromosomes.  Oh, there's all sorts of other folks that have assigned places, but they're not Genes like us.  

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Why, there's the on switches that tell a  Gene when its time to go to work.  For example, right after you eat, the insulin-on-switch tells me to get busy!

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And then there's the off switches that give a Gene time off.  For instance, when enough insulin has been made, the insulin-off-switch tells me to take a rest!

 

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Not to mention the docking sites for special proteins to bind when its time to wind us all up into a chromosome before cell division.


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And what about all those

 stretches of DNA that do who knows what? (scientists haven't figured them out yet!)

 

    "How are we all fit on the chromosome?   Let's take a peek at the DNA Ladder again.  Can you find me?

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     "Enough about them.  Let's get back to me!  I am a pretty small gene as far as that goes.  I'm only about 230 nucleotides long.   When you consider that all the DNA in one nucleus of one human cell adds up to over two and a half billion (2,500,000,000) nucleotides long, well, I'm kind of puny.  But size has nothing to do with importance.  And I'm very, very important.

     "My pal Gene, who knows how to make hemoglobin, is about twice my size.

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     And then, there is Gene, who knows how to make myosin, the protein that makes your muscles work, who is 20 times bigger than me!

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     "How do we do it?  Keep the blueprints for making proteins?  After all, we are made from only 4 different nucleotides!  Fact is, we are so simple, scientists used to call us the 'stupid substance'.  We Genes had a good laugh over that one!  But eventually those scientists figured out our secret.

     "You see, proteins like Polly are made from building blocks, too.  Only their building blocks are different from mine and are called 'amino acids'.  There are 20 different amino acids that can be used to make folks like Polly.  That's what threw those scientists off our scent for a while.  They were thinking, since Polly is made from 20 kinds of building blocks and we Genes are only made from 4 kinds, no way we could know how to construct a Polly.  But we do!   RayNA will tell you our secret a little later.

     "Right now, why don't we go find Polly so she can show you how she makes exact copies of the chromosomes."

 

DNA GENES:   For Parents & Teachers

 

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