Cell

Every living system consists of one or more cells. Vertebrates, including humans, are complex organisms consisting of several tissues formed by individual cells. Tissues include, for example, muscles, skin, and the nervous system.

A cell has many different parts, each with its own special function in maintaining the activities of the cell. The heart of the cell is its nucleus, which contains DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), storing all the information needed to direct the activities of the cell.

illustrative image of a human cell

illustrative image of a chromosome and magnifying glass

DNA

A DNA strand is built of small molecules called nucleotides. There are four different types of DNA nucleotides that are called by their one letter symbols: A, T, G, and C. Thus, a piece of DNA could look something like this: AGATTCAAAAGGGCC. Human beings differ from each other only by small changes in the nucleotide structure. In the previous example, another person could have G instead of A as the first nucleotide. DNA is organised in chromosomes, of which human beings have 46 in total (23 chromosomes from both parents). The number of chromosomes and genes varies greatly between species - for example roundworm has 13000 genes and dogs have 78 chromosomes. A human genome of 23 chromosomes contains over 3.2 billion nucleotides (A, T, G, or C) and approximately 21000 genes.

The main structure of a DNA strand is the same in every cell of the body (except for red blood cells, which do not have a nucleus and therefore lack the genome). Only the activity levels of the genes vary between different cells and tissues. Active genes produce proteins that maintain cell functions. Genes that are active in one cell type may be silent (not in use) in other cell types. Due to this characteristic, different cells can have distinct functions and form diverse structures.


Gene

A gene is a segment of DNA that can serve as a template for a functional protein. Humans have approximately 21000 genes, and all of them are included in every cell of the body (except for red blood cells). Only approximately 2% of the whole DNA is genes. The DNA strand between the genes is used by the machinery and different proteins that are involved in activating or silencing genes.


Image of a gene

From gene to proteins

Genes vary by their length and the number of introns (non-coding segments) and exons (protein coding segments). When a specific protein is needed, a respective gene is transcribed into RNA (ribonucleic acid), which is further processed so that introns are cut away. Thus the main structure of a protein is dependent on the nucleotide structure of exons. One gene may result in several different proteins depending on what exons are retained in the final RNA molecule.

Laboratory image

RNA is translated into protein, which is then moved to its target destination. Proteins have several functions depending on their type. Some examples include: antibodies that are involved in body defence, enzymes that expedite biochemical reactions, transporters that move molecules around the body, and hormones.


About DNA testing

We have now learned that genes consist of small molecules called nucleotides and that genes serve as templates for proteins, the functional units of cells. In DNA testing these genes and their nucleotide sequence are examined so that certain genetic markers in or near the genes will be analysed. There are various laboratory techniques that can be used to identify the differences in DNA sequence. Based on knowledge gained through scientific research, the results of the analysis are interpreted and forwarded to the customer. The pivotal variations in these genetic markers can be changes of only one nucleotide. Our earlier example showed that if one person has the sequence AGATTCAAAAGGGCC somewhere in their genome, another person could have G instead of A as the first nucleotide. DNA testing is based on these variations, which have been researched by scientists.

sample collection swab

The DNA sample in home delivery DNA tests is usually taken from the mouth. Some tests may need other sample types (for example blood or urine) - just follow the instructions of the DNA test provider.

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About our MyDNAPedia tests

Fitness and wellness related DNA testing is a growing scientific area, but the information received from scientific research is still not perfect. MyDNAPedia test results and recommendations are always based on the most recent and accurate scientific information available. As there are constantly new results in scientific DNA research, even the recommendations based on the best research available do not quarantee how much MyDNAPedia test results benefit the testing individual. Some persons may get out more concrete benefit from the test than others and even the possible few persons who may not feel to receive any benefits have learned a lot of themselves and their genetic features and therefore hopefully gained extra motivation for training and healthy way of living. MyDNAPedia test result is by it's nature more to increase understanding and research based, so it does not replace medical advice, genetic counseling, diagnostics or treatments.

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