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Dna- the Building Blocks of Life

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The Building Blocks Of Life

Edward J Lechleitner


We all know that elephants only give birth to little elephants, giraffes to giraffes, dogs to dogs and so on for every type of living creature. Why? The answer lies in a molecule known as deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), which contains the biological instructions that make each species unique. DNA, along with the instructions it contains, is passed from adult organisms to their offspring during reproduction. In organisms called eukaryotes, which includes all living animals, DNA is found inside the area of the cell called the nucleus. Because the cell is very small, and because organisms have many DNA molecules per cell, each DNA molecule must be tightly packed. This packed form of the DNA is called a chromosome.
During DNA replication, DNA unwinds so it can be copied. At other times in the cell cycle, DNA also unwinds so that its instructions can be used to make proteins and for other biological processes. But during cell division, DNA is in its compact chromosome form to enable transfer to new cells. Researchers refer to DNA found in the cell's nucleus as nuclear DNA. An organism's complete set of nuclear DNA is called its genome. Besides the DNA located in the nucleus, humans and other complex organisms also have a small amount of DNA in cell structures known as mitochondria. Mitochondria generate the energy the cell needs to function properly.
DNA is made of chemical building blocks called nucleotides. These building blocks are made of three parts: a phosphate group, a sugar group and one of four types of nitrogen bases, adenine (A), thymine (T), guanine (G) and cytosine (C) The order, or sequence, of these bases determines what biological instructions are contained in a strand of DNA. To form a strand of DNA, nucleotides are linked into chains, with the phosphate and sugar...

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