Genetics, dna and Mutations Chapter objectives There are numerous ethical issues raised by genetic technology, so a background knowledge of dna and genetics is needed to discuss the issues. This chapter aims to introduce



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A Cross-Cultural Introduction to Bioethics


C1. Genetics, DNA and Mutations

Chapter objectives

There are numerous ethical issues raised by genetic technology, so a background knowledge of DNA and genetics is needed to discuss the issues.

This chapter aims to introduce:

1. Basics of genetics that will be useful for other chapters that discuss the ethical and social issues.

2. What is mutation and how it can cause genetic disease.

C1.1. Why do humans make humans, and birds make birds?

Organisms do not pass their replica to the next generation but rather genetic material containing information needed to construct a progeny (offspring). In almost all organisms DNA is the genetic material, except for some viruses where it is RNA instead.

The genetic constitution of an organism is called its genotype. Interaction of this genetic constitution with the environment results in the physical appearance and other characteristics of an organism which is called its phenotype.

DNA works as a database or store of information needed to make an organism. It exists in the form of sequence of four nucleic acids A (adenine) T (thymine) G (guanine) and C (cytosine). When two strands of DNA are together, A binds with T and G binds with C, and these are called base pairs. There are approximately 3 billion base pairs in the human DNA. Genes are coding regions of the DNA that carry necessary information needed to make proteins, which are structures present and operating in the cells and organs. Genes are passed from one generation to the next during reproduction and are called the units of heredity. Variations in the sequence of DNA make each organism different. Genes express and function differently in all species, which makes each species and even each organism unique. Although almost all organisms have DNA (and a few viruses have their genetic information encoded as RNA), the expression of genes determine what we look like in general. Several genes get switched on or switched off during development and determine our phenotype. Environmental interactions also can determine diseases and behaviour.

`````The genetic code of all living organisms is made up of DNA.





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