60 Fast Facts about DNA 60 Years On

Pharma IQ

2013 marks the 60th anniversary of the discovery of the double helix of DNA by James Watson and Francis Crick, which has been instrumental for developments in modern science, technology and criminal investigations. Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei complied 100 quick facts about DNA, to celebrate the anniversary we look at the top 60.

  1. DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid.
  2. DNA is part of our definition of a living organism.
  3. DNA is found in all living things.
  4. DNA was first isolated in 1869 by Friedrich Miescher.
  5. James Watson and Francis Crick figured out the structure of DNA.
  6. DNA is a double helix.
  7. The structure of DNA can be likened to a twisted ladder.
  8. The rungs of the ladder are made up of “bases”
  9. Adenine (A) is a base.
  10. Thymine (T) is a base.
  11. Cytosine (C) is a base
  12. Guanine (G) is a base.
  13. A always pairs with T in DNA.
  14. C also pairs with G in DNA.
  15. The amount of A is equal to the amoun tof T, same for C and G.
  16. A+C = T+G
  17. Hydrogen bonds hold the bases together.
  18. The sides of the DNA ladder is made of sugars and phosphate atoms.
  19. Bases attached to a sugar; this complex is called a nucleoside.
  20. Sugar + phosphate + base = nucleotide.
  21. The DNA ladder usually twists to the right.
  22. There are many conformations of DNA: A-DNA, B-DNA, and Z-DNA are the only ones found in nature.
  23. Almost all the cells in our body have DNA with the exception of red blood cells.
  24. DNA is the “blueprint” of life.
  25. Chromosomal or nuclear DNA is DNA found in the nucleus of cells.
  26. Humans have 46 chromosomes.
  27. Autosomal DNA is part of chromosomal DNA but does not include the two sex chromsomes – X and Y.
  28. One chromosome can have as little as 50 million base pairs or as much as 250 million base pairs.
  29. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is found in the mitochondria.
  30. mtDNA is only passed from the mother to the child because only eggs have mitochondria, not sperm.
  31. There’s a copy of our entire DNA sequence in every cell of our body with one exception.
  32. Our entire DNA sequence is called a genome.
  33. There’s an estimated 3 billion DNA bases in our genome.
  34. One million bases (called a megabase and abbreviated Mb) of DNA sequence data is roughly equivalent to 1 megabyte of computer data storage space.
  35. Our entire DNA sequence would fill 200 1,000-page New York City telephone directories.
  36. A complete 3 billion base genome would take 3 gigabytes of storage space.
  37. If unwound and tied together, the strands of DNA in one cell would stretch almost six feet but would be only 50 trillionths of an inch wide.
  38. In humans, the DNA molecule in a non-sex cell would have a total length of 1.7 metres.
  39. If you unwrap all the DNA you have in all your cells, you could reach the moon 6000 times!
  40. Our sex cells–eggs and sperm–have only half of our total DNA.
  41. Over 99% of our DNA sequence is the same as other humans’.
  42. DNA can self-replicate using cellular machinery made of proteins.
  43. Genes are made of DNA.
  44. Genes are pieces of DNA passed from parent to offspring that contain hereditary information.
  45. The average gene is 10,000 to 15,000 bases long.
  46. The segment of DNA designated a gene is made up of exons and introns.
  47. Exons have the code for making proteins.
  48. Introns are intervening sequences sometimes called “junk DNA.”
  49. Junk DNA’s function or lack thereof is a source of debate.
  50. Part of “junk DNA” help to regulate the genomic activity.
  51. There are an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 genes in our genome.
  52. In 2000, a rough draft of the human genome (complete DNA sequence) was completed.
  53. In 2003, the final draft of the human genome was completed.
  54. The human genome sequence generated by the private genomics company Celera was based on DNA samples collected from five donors who identified themselves only by race and sex.
  55. If all the DNA in your body was put end to end, it would reach to the sun and back over 600 times (100 trillion times six feet divided by 92 million miles).
  56. It would take a person typing 60 words per minute, eight hours a day, around 50 years to type the human genome.
  57. If all three billion letters in the human genome were stacked one millimeter apart, they would reach a height 7,000 times the height of the Empire State Building.
  58. DNA is translated via cellular mechanisms into proteins.
  59. DNA in sets of 3 bases, called a codon, code for amino acids, the building blocks of protein.
  60. Changes in the DNA sequence are called mutations.

For more facts go to 100 Facts About DNA - Eye on DNA