Biochemical and biomedical genetics, Biology tutorial


It is evident to us all that we all dissimilar from one other and that most of such differences 'run in families'. Apart from similar twins people can readily be differentiated, from their facial features and many other features. This high level of individuality is replicated in our DNA. Both non-coding and coding DNA exhibits a great deal of person to person variation. The existence of variation at a molecular and biochemical level has been acknowledged for almost 100 years that is long before the first human DNA series were read. There is some early biochemical traits recognized, took more than 50 years to be explained at the level of gene. In disparity more recently the gene defect in most of the genetic diseases has been explained by sequencing of DNA with no knowledge at all of the function of the protein product.

Genetic variation in functional areas of the genome can fall into some different categories with respect to its consequence on the individual and the frequency of the allele in the population.

Variation in proteins:

A single amino-acid replacement can encompass much severe consequences however it might be unimportant if it is exterior to critical areas of functional significance.

Enzyme deficiencies: Inborn errors of metabolism

These are exceptional disorders in which an enzyme is deficient - that causes a block or 'error' in the metabolic pathway. They are generally recessive. Enzymes are catalysts in such a manner that half level present in heterozygote are adequate, and these individuals are generally totally unaffected. The first inborn errors were explained early in the 20th century by Sir Archibald Garrod. Garrod's theory of such disorders came mostly from his studies on the exceptional disorder Alkaptonuria. This is a relatively benign disorder however often diagnosed in infancy since of brown discoloration of the baby's nappy. The disorder is exemplified by the massive urinary excretion of the substance homogentisic acid that is not usually found in the urine. However the influenced individuals are generally quite healthy - in later life they are mainly prone to develop a form of arthritis termed as ochronosis - because of deposition of a substance derived from the homogentisic acid.

Garrod examined that often more than one sibling in a family was influenced and that often the parents were associated (that is, the marriages were consanguineous) and learned that such observations could be readily described when the defect was inherited as a recessive condition in terms of recently rediscovered laws of Mendel. Garrod was capable to forecast the enzyme deficiency. As recently as in the year 1997 the gene encoding homogentisic acid oxidase was cloned and the primary mutations recognized. From his study of alkaptonuria Garrod build up the theory that certain diseases of lifelong duration occur because an enzyme administering a single metabolic step is decreased in activity or missing. Most of the inborn errors of metabolism are now recognized. One of the most general is phenylketonuria that gives mount to a clinical disorder that comprises severe mental retardation. Phenylketonuria is due to the deficiency of enzyme phenylalanine hydroxylase that transforms phenylalanine to tryrosine.

Defects of abundant and structural proteins:

a) Haemoglobin, the main protein in the red cells, which provides blood its red color, was the first human protein to be studied in detail in relation to its genetic variability. The plenty of the protein signify that it could be series directly and its color signify that it could be readily detected. A very big number of variant haemoglobins are now recognized and most of these lead to disease. A well known instance is sickle cell haemoglobin that in homozygote leads to the sickle cell anaemia.

b) Collagen is a family of associated structural proteins that are vital to the integrity of numerous tissues comprising bones and skin. The mature collagen molecule is included of three polypeptide chains wound in the triple helix. The chains first relate at their C termini and then twist altogether in a C to N direction. To be able to achieve this collagen polypeptide chains encompass a special repeating structure of three amino acids, glycine - X - Y (X is generally proline and Y can be any of a broad range of amino acids). A point mutation through which changing a single amino acid disrupts either the relationship of chains at their C termini or which prevents the triple helix formation might encompass severe effects. One mutant chain can disrupt a triple helix by two wild-type chains, leading to a condition having dominant inheritance.

The first single gene polymorphisms:

A polymorphism is stated as the occurrence in a population of two or more common alleles. A locus is termed polymorphic when the frequency of the rarest allele is more than 0.01 - that is when the heterozygote frequency is 2% or more. The existence of human blood groups has been known since the starting of the 20 th centuries. Landsteiner exhibited that when suspensions of red blood cells get from different people are mixed with blood serum obtained from other people that the red cells frequently agglutinated and a clear cut pattern of differences in reaction was observed.

By working out the patterns of agglutinations he first stated the ABO blood groups. Others (Ottenberg and Epstein) exhibited that the ABO blood group was inherited as the Mendelian trait.

Variations in non-coding, non-functional DNA:

A broad variety of changes can outcome from mutations in DNA. These comprise single nucleotide changes and also big deletions, insertions and rearrangements.

Nucleotide changes in coding DNA: 

Here we will consider just one illustration - mutations in the coding area of the gene which lead to an amino-acid substitution via alteration of a codon. For instance: Aginine is positively charged at neutral pH because of the ionization of the amino groups.

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