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What Is a Gene? - Definition & Structure

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  • 0:01 From Cells to Genes
  • 1:00 DNA
  • 1:57 Functions of Genes
  • 3:35 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kelly Robson

Kelly has taught High School Science and Applied Communications. She holds an Education Specialist Degree in Ed. Leadership.

Genes are little codes found in our cells that make up who we are. This lesson covers where genes are located, how we get our genes, and the functions of genes.

From Cells to Genes

The phrase 'you are what you eat' loses its credibility when 'genes' come into play. Genes are the little tiny codes that actually make us who we are. These tiny little codes are all over our body telling it how to make proteins.

Let's start big and work our way down. Genes are found in our cells. Cells are the building blocks of all life. Every living organism is made out of cells. Each cell has an important and unique job to do. The nucleus is considered the brain of the cell because that is where the cell gets all of its information and instructions from.

Inside the nucleus of human cells are 46 chromosomes, actually found as 23 pairs of chromosomes. Each chromosome is made of 1 very tightly coiled strand of 'deoxyribonucleic acid', or DNA. The DNA is tightly wrapped around proteins like a thread around a spool. They need to be compacted or else they would not fit into the nucleus.

DNA

DNA is a long structure made up of four types of bases: adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine, represented by the letters A, C, G, and T. These four bases create many different sequences that each code for something. This code goes on and on and has all of the information and instructions for each cell to form into the proper structure and to perform the proper function. Genes are sections of the DNA that hold the code to make a single molecule, usually a protein.

So genes are a tiny sequence on a strand of DNA that holds a code. This code tells the cell what type of protein to make. Genes are small sections of DNA. A single strand of DNA is bundled together with some protein to form chromosomes. These chromosomes are found in the nucleus of the cell. Cells are what make up all living things.

Functions of Genes

Genes are little codes that hold the instructions on how to make a specific protein. Why is this so important? Proteins are the base of everything in our bodies. Proteins make up everything from our eyes to toes and things in between such as our blood.

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