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DNA

What is DNA? Your complete set of DNA, which stands for deoxyribonucleic acid, is called your genome. It contains the hereditary material of all living organisms and is what causes the difference between you and your friends.

What is DNA made of? DNA is a double helix, which means that it is composed of 2 strands. It looks like a ladder that has been twisted into a spiral shape. The strands are made up of carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, and hydrogen. DNA has a sugar-phosphate backbone attached to one of four nitrogen bases: adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine. In your DNA, adenine pairs with thymine and cytosine pairs with guanine.

Where is your DNA? Your DNA contains around 3 billion bases and 20,000 genes! The bases are dispersed over 46 chromosomes in the nuclei of your cells. You inherit 23 chromosomes from your mother and 23 chromosomes from your father. Chromosomes are tightly packed sequences of DNA mixed with proteins; they are useful in the storage of such an expansive genome.

What are mutations and what do they do? Mutations are changes in your DNA; they can be beneficial, have no effect, or be harmful. Mutations can be caused by things such as exposure to UV radiation, which can cause skin cancer. Other harmful mutations can also cause cystic fibrosis or sickle cell anemia. However, some mutations are harmless and actually contribute to the diversity of a population.

What does DNA look like in humans?


BY: Richa Kuklani

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