What information does DNA contain


A simplified model of DNA. You can see the two brown strands on the outside, which rotate around each other like a screw. The DNA looks like a twisted rope ladder, which is also called a double helix. Inside you can see the colored rungs of the ladder. They contain the information that is stored in DNA.

DNA is a long, very thin thread. It is found in every single cell of a living being. It is often located in the cell nucleus. There in the DNA is stored how the living being is structured and how it functions. DNA is an abbreviation for a long chemical name.

You can think of DNA as a kind of book that contains the building instructions to make all parts of a living being, like the muscles or the spit. In addition, the DNA also states when and where the individual parts are to be manufactured.

How is the DNA structured?

The DNA is made up of a few individual parts. You can think of it as a twisted rope ladder. On the outside it has two strands that rotate around each other like a screw and to which the “rungs” of the ladder are attached. The rungs contain the actual information, they are called "bases". There are four different types of them.

You could say that the bases are the letters of the building instructions. Always three bases together form something like a word. If you always combine four bases in packs of three, you can form many different "words" with which to write the building instructions.

Where is the DNA in a living being?

In bacteria, the DNA is a simple ring: As if the twisted rope ladder were knotted together at its ends to form a circle. This ring simply floats inside the individual cells that make up bacteria. Animals and plants are made up of very many cells and almost every one of them contains DNA. With them, the DNA swims in a separate area of ​​the cell, the cell nucleus. In every cell there is the instruction to build and control a whole living being of this kind.

In humans, the tiny DNA rope ladder that we have in every cell is almost two meters long. In order for it to fit into the cell nucleus, the DNA has to be packed together very small. In humans, it is divided into forty-six pieces called chromosomes. In each of the chromosomes, the DNA is wound up in a complicated way so that it is packed very tightly at the end. When the information in the DNA is needed, a small piece of DNA is packed up, small machines, the proteins, read the information, and other small machines then repackage the DNA. Other living things can have more or fewer chromosomes.

Cells divide in order to multiply. To do this, the DNA has to be doubled beforehand so that the two new cells again contain the same amount of DNA as the individual cell before. When dividing, the chromosomes are evenly distributed between the two new cells. If something goes wrong in certain cells, it can lead to diseases, such as Down's syndrome.

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