Author: Masaharu Tsubokura M.D., PhD.

Editor: Yudai Kaneda

349  DNA, the “blueprint” for making matter

16 October 2021

In the approximately 60 trillion cells that make up our bodies, many necessary substances are created and destroyed every day to keep us alive. The substance that is needed for this is called DNA, which is a substance found in the nucleus at the center of the cell that is shaped like a twisted ladder. You may have heard that radiation can damage it.

 DNA acts as a giant dictionary with the original blueprints that organisms need to live. It is a dictionary-like code written by arranging only the four letters C, A, T, and G. Since DNA is a large dictionary that contains all necessary information, it is difficult to open up the huge original dictionary and examine it every time when making proteins. Therefore, organisms make copies of only the necessary blueprints from the large dictionary and use the copied blueprints to make proteins.

 The blueprint, copied only in its necessary parts, is now called RNA. It was also used in the vaccine against new coronavirus infections, which administers a partial blueprint of the virus to the body, rather than the entire virus, so that the body can produce antibodies against that part of the virus. Because it is a partial blueprint, the body is not infected with the virus.

350  One side of the DNA repairs the wound.

23 October 2021

DNA serves as a giant dictionary of all the original blueprints necessary for living organisms to survive. It is a cryptic dictionary written by arranging only the four letters G, C, T, and A. Each of these original blueprints is sometimes called a “gene.”

 It is hard to open a huge dictionary every time to look something up. Therefore, proteins are made using a blueprint copied only where necessary from the dictionary. The copies are called RNA. RNA with the role of blueprint is called messenger RNA (mRNA). Since this RNA is a copy, it is not kept in the cell forever but is broken down in a matter of minutes to days.

 Can any part of the original DNA be damaged or lost? To ensure that the original is not easily lost, an organism’s DNA exists as a set of two pairs, like the left and right hands. DNA has a structure like a twisted ladder, and both the left and right struts of the ladder are the originals. If one of the originals is damaged, it is possible to refer to the other original and repair the damaged original effectively.


The Japanese version of the manuscript was originally published in Fukushima Minyu, a local newspaper in Fukushima prefecture, Japan, on 16 and 23 October 2021 were reproduced for MRIC Global under the author's permission.

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