Genes are the building blocks of heredity traits and occupy a specific locus, or position, on chromosomes. The extremely complex molecules of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) are made up of genes, which control all the functions and the multiplication of every cell. The nucleus of every single cell includes chromosomes consisting of thousands of genes. These are inherited from our biological parents and affect all traits, from a cellular level to overall physical and psychological aspects. All of the functions, tasks and daily behaviour of cells are controlled by the genetic information stored in the DNA. This is achieved by regulating the production of proteins and enzymes that control the chemical reactions of the daily routine inside every cell.
Genes would be unable to function without their ability of self-replication. Every time a cell divides, through a multiplication process known as mitosis, the new cells gets a set of genes that is a perfect copy of the ones from the mother cell. This allows genes to pass their specific genetic information from one generation to the next.
It can be said that genes actually decide all aspects of a person's life. All of the important traits, such as height, overall looks, hair color, muscle strength and others, are stored in the genes. However, genes do not determine everything and the mechanism is a lot more complex. The information stored by genes is modulated by a number of factors, of which environmental ones are the most important. For example, even if a person's genes allow a very tall height, it will not necessarily happen. Numerous other factors can prevent it, such as not eating the right food during childhood or various diseases that can disrupt digestion or the assimilation of nutrients. The relation between genes and the other factors is extremely complex.
While genes are able to self-replicate, they can also be destroyed. Even if genes are built to be as resilient as possible mutations are possible due to a wide range of external factors. When a gene is mutated, it can stop working completely or cause a chain reaction of unpredictable effects.
Every gene in our heritage plays a role and has a specific purpose. The production of proteins inside cells is controlled directly by the instructions in the DNA. Proteins are a key structural material and act as the building blocks of every tissue in our body. Everything is made of proteins, from the blood to the bones or the hair. A proper amount of proteins is needed for a healthy and well-developed body. Scientists believe that genes control the production of over 300000 different proteins, about 10 for every gene.
As a safety replication mechanism, genes are found in pairs just like chromosomes. We all possess two copies of every gene and pass one to our kids, which combines with the copy inherited from the other parent. The genes from our own parents influence our appearance, for example the height or the hair color.
Genes work exactly the same in animals, not only in humans. For example, there are many breeds of dogs, with significant variety. Genes decide the traits of dogs and make them different from cats, or any other animals. But this is not the whole story, since genes influence the specific features of a dog. Dogs can be very small or very big, with long fur or short one and so on. Every dog breed has a distinctive look passed on through its genes, such as the white fur with black spots of Dalmatian dogs.
Genes are a key focus of modern researchers due to their very important role. Scientists are trying to find out which proteins are produced by every specific gene, as well as the diseases caused by genetic problems. Mutations are the genes that have been modified by external factors. Many researchers suspect that mutations are one of the main causes of cancer, lung issues and other very severe diseases. The absence of specific genes or the presence of extra ones can also trigger very serious health issues.
Since we inherit our genes from our parents, they can also pass on their genetic diseases. One example is a disease named anemia, which causes a reduced number of red cells in the blood. One variant of this condition, sickle cell anemia, is a genetic problem that can be inherited. It is caused by a faulty gene that controls the production of hemoglobin. This is a key protein in the structure of red blood cells, which haul the oxygen used as energy by every cell in the body. The defective gene makes the body produce a variety of hemoglobin that doesn't work as expected, which triggers the disease.
There are numerous other genetically inherited diseases, for example cystic fibrosis (or CF). People who suffer from this condition produce a lot more mucus than normal, which eventually blocks the lungs and severely disrupts breathing. It is a chronic condition that requires permanent treatment in order to clear the lungs. CF is also caused by a faulty gene, which is usually transmitted by parents to their children.