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what makes you so unique?

DNA structure

what makes you so unique?

I will say it again: we are pretty amazing creatures! So many times while studying the Principles of Nutrition, have I considered, how completely amazing we humans are! And the way that we build our bodies from the cells up, to be utterly unique is one of these processes which blows my mind.

Consider our genetics. The fact that we are literally coded from DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is incredible enough. Did you know how our genes code for the expression of certain characteristics, that don’t change from day to day, like the shape of your eyebrows or your big toe? Do you know how we make proteins in our bodies, that make you uniquely you, and the proteins that carry out the most incredible array of functions inside your body?

It is incredible!!

Protein synthesis from DNA

DNA structure

DNA structure

Each piece of information encoded in the strand of DNA in the nucleus of all our cells is transformed to a sequence of amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) in the following way:

First the strand of DNA is used as a template to make a strand of RNA (ribonucleic acid). This RNA, known as messenger RNA or mRNA carries the information across the nuclear membrane from the nucleus into the body of the cell.

It seeks out a ribosome, which makes proteins and joins to it. The mRNA then spells out the sequence of amino acids that will form the resulting protein. These resulting proteins are what makes your eyes green, or your feet a certain length. They perform an incredibly large range of functions in the body from the structure of your cells, to making reactions between compounds possible by acting as enzymes.

Transfer RNA then collects amino acids from the cell and brings them to the messenger RNA and ribosome. As each of the 20 possible amino acids has its own transfer RNA, thousands of transfer RNA molecules, cluster around the ribosomes, and when the messenger calls for a specific amino acid, the transfer RNA carrying the specific amino acid moves into position. The next loaded transfer RNA moves into place and so on and so on.

mRNA ribosome and protein synthesis

simplified diagram of protein synthesis

 

 

This is how the amino acids line up in the sequence which is encoded in the DNA and mRNA. Enzymes act to bind them together, and the completed protein strand is released. The transfer RNAs are then free to seek other loads of amino acids.

This blows my mind!

 
 

Protein function

Proteins are used in the body for the most diverse array of functions, from the structure of your muscles, bones and skin to the building blocks of your blood. They can act as enzymes which are catalysts for reactions in the body. They can be utilised as hormones in the body, which react to changing states of the body to tell the body to do something. They regulate fluid balance in the body. They act as buffers to maintain the pH of our blood, they can act as transporters between cells, and as antibodies to fight off infection. Lastly they can act as a source of energy and be converted to glucose.

This is an impressive array of functions, and proteins do them all. I am amazed. We are so incredible! Such a precious form of life along with all the other mammals and other animals, plants, sea creatures. It is truly mind blowing that these systems have evolved to create living breathing humans, who write blog posts and make art!!

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