Glossary

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Adenine (A)
is one of the four nucleobases that make up the DNA structure. Adenine complements the shape of and bonds with Thiamine (T) in DNA and Uracil (U) in RNA.

Allele
a group of genes in several forms. Alleles can give rise to the same or different traits.

Amino acids
are molecules that contain an amine group and are the smaller building blocks of proteins. The genetically controlled sequence of amino acids code for a variety of proteins.

Cell
the smallest structural unit of an organism that is capable of independent functioning, consisting of one or more nuclei, cytoplasm, and various organelles, all surrounded by a semipermeable cell membrane.

Cell membrane
a semipermeable double layered membrane that encloses the cytoplasm of the cell.

Cheek Dimples
cheek dimples are visible indentation in the cheeks formed as a result of a birth defect of the underlying flesh resulting from shortened facial muscle. Check dimples are inherited by a single dominant gene.

Chromosomes
are condensed coil-like structures of DNA and proteins that serve to tightly package the DNA into the confined space of the nucleus.

Codon
a triplet combination of nucleotide that codes for one or more amino acids in the synthesis of proteins.

Cytoplasm
the cell fluid that is enclosed within the cell membrane containing various organelles.

Cytosine (C)
is one of the four nucleobases that make up the DNA structure. Cytosine complements the shape of and bonds with Guanine (G) in DNA.

Dominant gene
a dominant gene within an allele will mask the trait of the recessive gene.

Disulphide bond
also called a disulfide bridge occurs between the amino acid, cysteine. This bond helps the folding and stability of the protein.

DNA
DeoxyriboNucleic Acid is the heritable molecular blueprint that makes us who we are. It is composed of four nucleobases; Adenine, Guanine, Thymine or Cytosine.

Eye Colour
eye colour is determined by multiple genes; EYCL1 – green/blue eye colour, EYCL2 – brown eye colour and EYCL3 – blue/brown eye colour. For example, parents with any eye colour can produce children with any eye colour.

Fixed Ear Lobes
human ear lobes are genetically controlled by a dominant allele. Freely hanging ear lobes are dominant with ~75% of the population with this trait. Fixed ear lobes are recessive.

Gene
is a region in the DNA that codes for a specific expression. This expression may be the coding for protein production or regulation of protein production.

Genome
the entire set of genes possessed by an organism

Genotype
is the inherited genetic code of an individual.

Guanine (G)
is one of the four nucleobases that make up the DNA structure. Guanine complements the shape of and bonds with Cytosine (C) in DNA.

Hair Colour
hair colour is the genetically controlled level of melanin in the hair follicle. The more melanin present in the follicle, the darker the hair. As we get older, these genes are turned off, melanin production reduces and our hair turns grey.

Hair follicle
found at the base of the hair shaft under the skin surface, it is the skin organ that contains the hair root cell, sebaceous glands and other structures essential for hair growth.

Helix
a three-dimension spiral shape formed by a straight line drawn around an axis

Human Genome
Project a collaborative scientific project aimed at finding and identifying the sequence of DNA and complete set of genes in the human genome.

Inherited
passing on traits from the parents to their offspring. The traits that are passed on may have different expressions, causing variations of the offspring’s phenotype.

Melanin
is the light capturing pigment found in most organisms. Most commonly a brown colour, it gives rise to human skin and hair colour.

Microscopy
the use of microscopes to magnify and view very tiny samples that cannot be seen by eye.

Mitosis
the process, during cell division, where the chromosomes in the nucleus divide in two identical sets of chromosomes in their own nucleus.

Nucleotides
are molecules that are the building blocks of DNA; G, C, A and T.

Nucleus
a large often spherical structured organelle within the cell, surrounded by the nuclear membrane, that contains the DNA.

Nuclear membrane
a semipermeable double layered membrane that encapsulates the nucleus within the cell.

Organelle
a cell organ that has a specific function. For example the mitochondria produce the cell’s energy.

Phenotype
is the observable individual’s characteristics; physical and mental identity.

Photo 51
is the famous X-ray diffraction images of DNA taken by Rosalind Franklin that led to the discovery of DNA’s structure.

Proteins
are long chains of amino acids capable of a biological function. This function can be enzymic, hormonal or structural.

Recessive gene
a recessive gene within an allele will have its trait masked by the dominant gene.

Sex
chromosomal determination of human gender uses the sex chromosomes XX and XY. Females have the same sex chromosome, XX. Males have distinctly different sex chromosomes, XY. The letters X and Y describe the shape of the chromosomes.

Skin Colour
skin colour is the genetically controlled level of melanin in the skin cells. The more melanin present in the skin cells, the darker the skin colour. Melanin in the skin absorbs sunlight and protects DNA from being damaged by dangerous UV light.

Tongue Rolling
the ability to bring the edges of your tongue together into a tube. Tongue rolling is determined by a dominant gene. If you have the dominant gene, you can roll your tongue; if you have the recessive gene you cannot roll your tongue.

Theory
a scientific theory is a well thought out explanation to an aspect of science that cannot be absolutely scientifically proven but is based on comprehensive knowledge.

Thymine (T)
is one of the four nucleobases that make up the DNA structure. Thymine complements the shape of and bonds with Adenine (A) in DNA.

Traits
are a distinct phenotypic character of an individual. Traits can be genetically and/or environmentally derived.

Uracil (U)
is the nucleobases unique to RNA, replacing Thiamine (T). It complements the shape of Adenine (A) in RNA

UV light
abbreviation for Ultraviolet light, it has a shorter wave length than visible light. UV light can penetrate skin cells damaging the DNA and causing skin cancer.

Widows Peak
a widow’s peak is a distinct point in the hairline in the centre of the forehead. It is a dominant inherited trait.

X-ray diffraction
a scientific technique used to study microscopic molecules. Photo 51 is the famous X-ray diffraction images of DNA taken by Rosalind Franklin that led to the discovery of DNA’s structure.

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