How do cells actually survive and function? What relationship does DNA have to these activities?

1. Outline transcription

2. Outline translation.

3. With these two processes outlined, comment on one of the main functions of DNA.

4. How can researchers and clinical health care professionals work together to more effectively intervene in genetic diseases?

5. Briefly outline a genetic disease and its ramifications on the newborn.


How do cells actually survive and function? What relationship does DNA have to these activities?

In this section we will study how information is coded in genes and DNA and how this is used by the cell. We will see how cells use their genes to build protein molecules. These protein molecules are what allows a living organism to carry out metabolism, to grow, to move, to reproduce, and to sense and respond to the environment.

Your genes direct your cells how to make the proteins that allow you to taste your coffee, type on a keyboard, study for this course, exercise, burn calories, and drive a car, in addition to everything else you do.

We will discuss how the cell makes a new copy of DNA. We will also see how the information stored in DNA is transferred to RNA, and how RNA in turn directs the production of proteins. This is also known as the “central dogma of biology”.

We will also explore the various ways in which DNA can be manipulated by using modern technologies. You may have heard of many of these topics in the news. Genetic engineering, recombinant DNA, cloning, genetically modified foods, and biotechnology applications in medicine and agriculture are a few of the topics that we will discuss. These technologies have allowed the medical, pharmaceutical, and agricultural fields to make major breakthroughs in the last several years.

You will participate in a class discussion related to topics in biology.

And you will demonstrate your knowledge of course concepts with a quiz.

Next week we will study how genetic changes affect populations. We will discuss how gene distributions change over time and produce evolution.

Week 5 Outcomes

By the end of this week, you should be able to

  • describe how eukaryotic and prokaryotic DNA is arranged in the cell;
  • explain the process of DNA replication;
  • describe mechanisms of DNA repair;
  • explain the central dogma of biology, including transcription and translation;
  • describe how eukaryotic mRNA is processed;
  • describe the different steps, including the role of ribosomes, in protein synthesis;
  • describe the genetic code and how the nucleotide sequence determines the amino acid sequence in proteins;
  • describe cloning and genetic engineering;
  • explain the basic techniques used to manipulate genetic material;
  • explain molecular and reproductive cloning; and
  • apply concepts and/or argue a position related to a scientific topic.

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