Nucleic Acid (DNA/RNA): Thinking of Health on the Genetic Level
DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) and RNA (ribonucleic acid) are collectively called nucleic acid. Both play distinct roles in sustaining life. Residing in the nucleus of a cell, DNA contains genetic instructions (“blueprints”) to form life that can be passed down from one generation to the next. RNA copies genetic instructions from DNA to form proteins to form life. Nucleic acid is the basis for the fundamental functions of life and is contained in each of the estimated 37 trillion cells that make up our body. The nutritional aspects of nucleic acid have been demonstrated and are also gaining wide-spread attention.
“DNA”: Encoding Genetic Instructions
A cell is the smallest unit in living organisms. Every life cycle relies entirely on cell division. Throughout this process, DNA replication is essential for genetic information to be transmitted from each parent cell to daughter cell. A significant amount of nucleotides are required for DNA replication. Nucleotides are synthesized in the body using two pathways, large amounts of nucleotides are pooled in the nucleus, as we age, it has been reported that the amount of nucleotides necessary for nucleotide synthesis will decrease. Correlations in nucleotide reduction and aging have also been proposed.
For three billion base sequences to replicate correctly, our body has a “DNA repair mechanism” that correct erroneous genome sequences at the time of replication to repair DNA damage due to oxidative stress and other factors. When there is an error in a genetic sequence, the capacity to make the correct proteins may deteriorate.
The Involvement of RNA in Protein Synthesis
Control of Gene Expression
Our body is made up of about 37 trillion cells, each of which come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and functions. The nucleus of each cell equally contains an entire information of our genetic structure. Due to variants in genetic combinations for each cell, cells give off different functions making them unique in their own way. Based on the genetic instructions, gene expression and other functions mean the mRNA is doing its job in synthesizing proteins.
Adjustments are constantly made in the body to maintain a proper state in response to changes in external environments and other factors. In this way, gene expression is controlled differently and individually through various mechanisms. Significantly, most control in gene expression happens during transcription. In recent years, the discovery of miRNA (microRNA) and siRNA (short interfering RNA) posttranscriptional control of gene expression have been demonstrated among the RNA that are not involved in protein synthesis. Since the completion of decoding the human genome, the discovery of a new and important function of RNA regulating gene expression has been gaining wide-spread attention.
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