Jaw Drop #3 – A DNA’s orchestra

At current times, pretty much everybody knows that DNA is a quite important part of a living organism, I should say fundamental. Genetics, Genetic therapies, DNA sequencing, and so on, are developing/improving and being accepted by people faster and faster. Why a biologist can cure you from a genetic disease by alterating your DNA? Why sequencing DNA can correlate you to your relatives, find a Murderer or enlight the evolutionary relationship between a goose and a dinosaur? Well, DNA is an extraordinary molecule, with many extraordinary properties: it’s unique for every living being, it’s simple (only 4 units determinate the code), it’s fantastically changing and changeable, it’s in every cell of an organism and it’s conservated throughout history.

So? Everybody knows that right? I think they should. But why do we have DNA? That’s actually an incorrect question, because, in reality, we exist because of DNA. DNA determines what WE ARE, what we can do and pretty much everything we have (biologically). Life arose thanks to a genetic system based on DNA (and probably in the early stages on RNA), and that system persisted until now.

People usually think about DNA only when diseases are caught in the show. It is DNA’s fault when you get cancer, it is DNA’s fault when your child is born with the Down’ syndrome and it’s probably DNA’s fault if someone die early. Of course, you know, if you are really talented, that’s because, “it is in your DNA”. It’s kind cool that DNA has gained such a popolarity, but few people actually know or realize the importance of that double helix.

DNA molecule
An accurate picture of what a DNA double helix looks like.

DNA is the orchestra director of the symphony of life. It’s the boss in your body’s office. It’s the mother and father of almost every molecules in a cell. It’s the main feature which distinguish a living thing from a non-living one (does it? Check the “what is life?” post) . DNA isn’t bad. It’s not good either. DNA makes us from the bottom up, form the first day of our life to the latest. DNA, through his coding structures, can assembly amazing apparatuses like your brain, skin, muscles, kidney, lung, heart, but it can makes auto-replicating bacterias, undying viruses and who knows what else, as well. Everything in your cell IS because of DNA Replication, Transcription and Translation into proteins that pretty much make up and control everything you can imagine in your body. Because it’s so important in its function, it must have load of security systems that guarantee its correct functioning. But even then, a mutation can occur and a protein is made differently. In such occasions a disease can arise, but also an improvement could. That’s why many genetic diseases exist, and why some of them are curable working with the DNA itself.

But think about it. We have a copy of the SAME DNA in every cell of our body (with some exception), how can it be that every cell works in a different way? DNA is not an orchestra director of only one instrument, it has a whole orchestra to direct. Every cell differentiate in a specific kind of cell thanks to specific genetic regulators that activate some genes in determinate cells, and deactivate other genes in other cells. Did your hear that our DNA in manly “Junk DNA”? Well, it turned out that that was all regulating DNA in a form or in another. Genetic regulation is perhaps more important than the code itself.

So DNA makes everything in every cell. But every living organism start its own life from a single cell. That means that the starting cell, called the embryo, is disomogeneous at the beginning and while it is dividing, new slightly different cells will arise. DNA it’s important even from your first cell. It’s not only important if you get a cancer, if you get a cut or if you get Herpes. DNA is YOURSELF from the beginning. From the beginning itself it’s already decided your sex, aspect, and partly habits, height, weight, attitudes, pros and cos. From the start you can’t be another one without messing up with your genetic code. But, watch out, do not worry. That’s not frightening, it’s arousing, stimulating and exciting! Everybody now should want their whole genome sequence in a frame hung on their bedroom’s wall! There is nothing to fear, it’s our nature and how we are made up.

DNA is such a tireless worker and director that we should be ashamed for our daily time on the couch! And thinking that all of this arose from random processes at the beginning of life is Mind Blowing! Or better Jaw Dropping! DNA, as a molecule, arose from random atoms, and smaller molecules hitting each other! We are so lucky even to be here. We should respect ourselves and every other living things, at least ONLY for the fact that we came to existence.

Were you ready to change your perspective on life? If you are now, let me tell you another story..

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