Nucleic Acid Functions in the Body
DNA and RNA are considered as nucleic acids. These are vital molecules present in all the living cells on the earth. Interestingly they also found to be present in space as per NASA. These nucleic acids are involved in three basic processes in our body like the replication, transcription and translation. However they do have other functions as well like
- Carrying hereditary information
- Making other nucleic acids and proteins
- Supporting cell division
- Control cell metabolism
- Stimulates apoptosis
- Design the proteins.
- Enzymatic action
- Modify by mutation to adopt to the environment.
You might have already known involvement of nucleic acids in cell division, mRNA formation and protein synthesis from your biochemistry subject. But these nucleic acids are also involved in other functions.
1.DNA carries the hereditary information and codes for proteins. DNA is the memory house in an organism. Though the person does not have the memory of his forefathers, the DNA has it and hence he attains their physical features. These DNA help to replicate the features from one generation to another.
2. mRNA formation
DNA makes RNA by transcription process in the nucleus. This RNA makes proteins by translation. These proteins confer specific characters to the organism. They are used as building blocks of the body and they help on shaping the tissues and organs of the body.
3. In cell division
Cell division is a process where two identical daughter cells are formed from one mother cells. The mother cells DNA nucleic acid undergoes replication to form an identical copy of DNA. This leads to formation of a pair of DNA in the cell prior to mitosis. During cell division, each DNA moves up to each living daughter cell. Thus it also helps to preserve genetic information.
4. Metabolism and communication:
Apoptosis is a natural cell death process. This is aimed at keeping the body healthy by destroying abnormal cells. During the synthesis of new DNA, if there is any abnormal result, the cell undergoes apoptotic cell death. This cell death is triggered by DNA.
6. Protein synthesis:
Proteins have a fixed and specific structure which can vary from species to species. This specific structure of protein is necessary for normal body physiology. This protein with definite structure is created by mRNA transcription. Thus the RNA codes for protein.
7. Enzymatic action:
RNA acts as an enzyme in some cellular reactions. These are called as ribozymes. These ribozymes are involved in cleavage and joining of RNA and DNA molecules when required.
8. Genetic mutation:
Nucleic acids especially the DNA acquire new traits from other cells. This happens due to transfer of DNA from the healthy one. This way those characters which help the animal sustain adverse condition are transmitted across cells.
Further nucleic acids help in diagnosis of disease and predict the diseases in future generation from current parents. They are also useful to generate biotechnological products.