What are genes?

• Genes are carriers of blueprints for formation of cells, tissues, organs, and organism. Genes are made up of a nucleic acid called deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and all information is stored in the molecules of this substance. The genes are strung together to form structures containing long chains of DNA known as chromosomes.

 • Genes are involved in the synthesis of proteins. Proteins are the most important constituents of our body. They make up the greater part of each cell and of intercellular substances. Enzymes, hormones and antibodies are also proteins.

 • The nature and functions of a cell depend on the proteins synthesized by it. It is, therefore, not surprising that one cell differs from another because of the differences in the proteins that constitute it.

 • Genes exert their influence on cellular functions by synthesis of proteins. The proteins synthesized differ from cell to cell and within the same cell at different times. This provides the basic mechanism for control of any process, including embryonic development.

 • Proteins are the building blocks and are made of smaller units called amino acids. Differences in genes cause the building of different amino acids and proteins. These differences make individuals with different traits, e.g. hair color, eye color, skin color, blood groups, etc.

 • We now know that genes control the development and functioning of cells, by determining what types of proteins will be synthesized within them. Thus, genes play an important role in the development of tissues and organs of an individual.

 • A gene gives only the potential for the development of a trait. How this potential is achieved depends partly on the interaction between the genes and the interaction of the gene with the environment. For example, genetic tendency of overweight is influenced by environmental factors like food, exercise, stress, etc.

• Vast amount of information about individual genes and the various factors that are produced by them to control developmental processes step by step is available in the literature. To understand genetic processes, we have to first know some facts about DNA structure
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