What is DNA?

In simple terms, DNA is the code for life. It is the all-important molecule inherited from our parents that gives the chemical instructions to make our bodies and sustain them. DNA comes wrapped up in long coils – if you…

What is DNA?

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In simple terms, DNA is the code for life.
It is the all-important molecule inherited from our parents that gives the chemical instructions to make our bodies and sustain them.
DNA comes wrapped up in long coils – if you unravel it, it looks a bit like a spiral staircase.
It is found in the nucleus of our cells, which is like the cell’s control centre.
The code is divided into chromosomes – lengths of DNA that each may have several thousand genes.
Genes provide the instructions for making proteins – the huge variety of molecules that make up the body’s tissues and repair them.
DNA comprises intertwined strands made of sugar and phosphate, with links across the middle.
The rungs are base pairs made of four different chemicals, represented by the letters A, T, G and C. The letters always come in pairs — A with T and G with C.
Things go wrong when there is a flaw in the code, called a mutation. A single ‘misspelling’ in a gene can cause disorders such as colour blindness or a disease like cystic fibrosis.
Some diseases, like Alzheimer’s and cancer, are more complex, arising from mutations in several genes. They may also be linked to one’s lifestyle or problems in the environment.

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