Our DNA is extraordinary! From finding the culprit in criminal investigations to proving justice in court cases or innovation of specialized medications, its use is endless. In other words, knowledge of the human genome benefits the legal, medical, and social aspects of society. DNA is a molecule that exists in almost every living thing, telling it what it should look like and how it should function.
Over the years scientists have come through some stunning discoveries regarding DNA. What have they learned? To reveal the answer read these interesting facts about DNA…
DNA or deoxyribonucleic acid is a long molecule that contains our unique genetic code.
Your genome is made of a chemical called deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA for short.
DNA contains four basic building blocks or bases: adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G), and thymine (T).
DNA is a two-stranded molecule.
DNA has a unique ‘double helix’ shape, like a twisted ladder.
Each strand is composed of long sequences of the four bases, A, C, G, and T.
The bases on one strand of the DNA molecule pair together with complementary bases on the opposite strand of DNA to form the ‘rungs’ of the DNA ‘ladder’.
The bases always pair together in the same way, A with T, C with G.
Each base pair is joined together by hydrogen bonds.
Each strand of DNA has a beginning and an end called 5′ (five prime) and 3′ (three prime) respectively.
The two strands run in the opposite direction (antiparallel) to each other so that one runs 5’ to 3’ and one runs 3’ to 5’. Тhey are called the sense strand and the antisense strand, respectively.
The strands are separated during DNA replication.
The human genome is made of 3.2 billion bases of DNA but other organisms have different genome sizes.
DNA is the hereditary substance that humans and most other organisms carry.
The molecules which are the building blocks of DNA are called nucleotides.
Chemist reading a DNA profile
A change in DNA is called a mutation.
The actual length of human DNA is approximately 3 metres.
If we unraveled the entire DNA in a human, it would stretch 10 billion miles. That would be the same as a return trip to Pluto.
DNA was first discovered by biochemist Friedrich Miescher in 1869, but it wasn’t until the 1940s that Oswald Avery realized DNA contains humans’ genetic blueprint.
DNA’s double-helix structure was discovered in 1953 by James Watson and Francis Crick, who are now more famous than their predecessors.
DNA testing was first used in criminal cases in 1985. The first to experience its justice was Tommie Lee Andrews, a rapist from Florida in 1987. Following that is a serial killer from Virginia in 1988.
Double Helix Model
Forensic DNA is not fully fooled proof. DNA samples could be corrupted and deteriorate over time, and scientists could make errors in examining and interpreting procedures.
A recent discovery even showed that genetic markers are not as unique as genetic makeups are. Hence, anyone from a sibling down to a total stranger could be wrongly convicted.
It wasn’t until 2000 that scientists completed the first draft “map” of the human genome. Two rival groups of scientists united to do the work, which was expected to revolutionize medicine by enabling doctors to give diagnoses and prescribe treatments tailored to each patient.
They completed the sequence in 2003. The scientists from the Human Genome Project successfully deciphered the entire sequence 3 years following its first draft.
This success paved the way for the possibility of explaining a similarity in the genes of human beings or other model organisms.
The International Space Station obtained DNA samples in 2008 from famous people. They stored the samples on the “Immortality Drive” memory device and sent them into space to be kept at the Station. These copies, including that of Lance Armstrong and Stephen Hawking, are instruments to the goal of resurrecting humanity in case of apocalyptic devastation of the planet.
A series of books showcasing the first printout of the human genome
The genome research raised concerns that such activity could not only edit out genetic imperfections but could also equip parents with choices on a child’s attributes.
DNA has five types. The most common type is the B-DNA, the rest are the A-DNA, C-DNA, D-DNA, and Z-DNA.
The only DNA type that is left-handed is the Z-DNA. It indicates the direction to which the DNA strand is coiling.
The two DNA strands play roles in the regulation of heredity and metabolism.
The human genome contains about 8% of junk DNA. In other words, the viruses that once affected relatives now dwell in your DNA. Thus, hereditary diseases.
A single gram of DNA could hold up to 700 terabytes’ worth of data.
It is possible to have two sets of DNA within a body. Known as “chimera,” this occurrence happens through the merging of multiple fertilized eggs during embryogenesis, or as a result of an organ or bone marrow transplant.
Genetic material could be used in the production of genetically transformed plants and microbes.
A scientist organization inscribed the lyrics of “It’s a Small World After All” into a bacterial genome. Their objective was to develop a method to transmit messages for future forms of intelligent life.
9% of the DNA in all humans is identical. It is the tiny difference that allows us to be individuals.
DNA molecules are so fragile that they could be damaged easily.
DNA cells undergo damages more than a hundred times a day. Even so, human bodies are equipped with capable systems for repair mechanisms.
DNA can replicate itself and duplicate itself which is the reason humans can exist.
Do you have any interesting or fun facts about DNA that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!