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What are Genetic Disorders? - Definitions & Descriptions

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  • 0:01 The Function of Genes
  • 0:41 What Are Genetic Disorders?
  • 2:02 Monogenetic Disorders
  • 3:37 Chromosome Disorders
  • 5:17 Multifactorial…
  • 6:06 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson defines genetic disorders and explores three main types of genetic disorders, including monogenetic disorders, chromosome disorders, and multifactorial inheritance disorders. You'll learn about genes, chromosomes, DNA, and much more!

The Function of Genes

Your genes made you who you are today. Genes are sections of code that built you to unique specifications. You will become someone else years from now also partly as a result of genes that have coded for the natural progressions of life, such as predisposition to cancer, balding, and so on.

These sections of code, our genes, can sometimes be just a little bit off - in the same way computer code can be a little bit off. When computer code is wrong, it leads the computer to do all sorts of unexpected things. Our genes can also cause problems, such as genetic disorders, when they are coded improperly.

What Are Genetic Disorders?

Genetic disorders are a group of conditions that arise as a result of chromosomal abnormalities.

A chromosome is like a big block of computer code within a larger program known as a genome. Within the big block of code, there are also many different types of genes. Genes are smaller sections of code. These genes are sections of our DNA. So, you could say that DNA is the coding language used to build the genome. The DNA language essentially determines how our program functions.

For instance, a chunk of computer code can tell a program what font to use, what size the font should be, which picture should be inserted, and much more. Similarly, a chromosome has many different genes that can also code for a ton of stuff, like how tall you will be.

When computer programmers write code, they can cause abnormalities within the code by doing things like adding the wrong code, deleting the correct code, or simply mistyping the necessary code. Mutations also occur when parts of DNA are abnormal due to something like a deletion, insertion, or substitution of code. The latter occurs when the wrong letter, so to speak, of the code is typed in. It's a 'mistype.'

Monogenetic Disorders

Genetic disorders can be described or grouped in many different ways in terms of what they affect.

A mutation that affects a single gene is known as a monogenetic disorder, where 'mono-' refers to 'one' of something, like a monocle, monopoly, or monorail. You get the point.

Anyways, single-gene disorders can be dominant or recessive in nature. Here's what I mean by this. Most people are born with two hands and have one dominant hand. This dominance, or preference for using one hand, lets a person sort of rule the way they live their life, including which hand they eat with, hold the phone with, open doors with, and so on.

When you are born, you get 23 pairs of chromosomes, one set from each parent, for a total of 46 chromosomes.

If one of the genes in a single chromosome carries a genetic mutation and this mutation causes a problem, we call this a dominant disease. To put it another way, a dominant disease means that you only need to receive one copy of a bad gene from either your mother or your father in order to get a disease. This diseased copy, like a dominant hand, rules the way the body responds to commands from the incorrect code, and it overrules the normal copy of code left on the other chromosome.

In contrast, a recessive monogenetic disease needs to have a mutation in a gene on both chromosomes.

Chromosome Disorders

Chromosome disorders are also another type of genetic disorder. Chromosome disorders are genetic disorders that are caused by structural changes to a chromosome or excesses or deficiencies of entire genes located on chromosomes.

Some people have three copies of a chromosome, each one of which has absolutely normal genes. You'd think that would be swell, since an extra copy of most things doesn't hurt in case something goes wrong with the other two. But, like having a third hand, it can sort of get in the way of day-to-day life, and therefore, in the case of genetic disorders, the third copy of the chromosome also gets in the way of proper coding for your body and results in disease.

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