Monthly Archives: January 2009

blame DNA!


How much can we blame DNA for who we are?


May be I should apologize to my genes. In recent years I’ve been blaming them for many personal defects conventionally associated with my starter ‘pack’ – my thinning hair, for example or other physical or character traits that could be improved.


Now, with recent science discoveries, it turns out that genes are too feeble to accept responsibility for much of anything. The closer we look, the less important genes seem to be the "blueprint for life".


Scientists have recently learned that canonical "genes" account for only 1 percent of the three billion paired units of DNA that are stuffed into nearly every cell of our body. Scientists are also learning that it’s not just about DNA anymore. Its about DNA’s chemical cousin RNA, doing things to our proteins that it wasn’t supposed to do.


Now we find out that short clips of RNA are acting like DNA, transmitting genetic secrets to the next generation directly, without bothering to ask permission.  So may be I should now blame RNA for my bad starter pack!


For many scientists, the increasingly strange and baroque picture of the genome that their research revealed from 2002-2007 may be quite muddled. The original genome started off very neat and simple and now we have developed all those complexities.


As a result, the notion of the gene as the atom of biology is now quite wrong.  So we have to get away from the underlying earlier assumptions and from the earlier units of inheritance that we are so attached to.


So now what? Well DNA is still the most brilliant invention in evolutionary history; but the problem is that DNA does not do anything by itself. However, our cells and RNA will keep comprehending the mysteries of life and keep producing all our specialized cells in billions so that we would function well.


Never mind that I am not very ‘happy’ with my hair!