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 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 adapt to the environment.
You might have already known the 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. This DNA helps 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 in 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’s cells. The mother cells DNA nucleic acid undergoes replication to form an identical copy of DNA. This leads to the 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:
DNA is also the seat of communication and metabolism. They act as nuclear receptors and few drugs and hormones act on these receptors and bring about the necessary changes in the cells and in the body.
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 an 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 that can vary from species to species. This specific structure of the protein is necessary for normal body physiology. This protein with a definite structure is created by mRNA transcription. Thus the RNA codes for a protein.
7. Enzymatic action:
RNA acts as an enzyme in some cellular reactions. These are called 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 the transfer of DNA from a healthy one. This way those characters which help the animal sustain adverse condition are transmitted across cells.
Further nucleic acids help in the diagnosis of disease and predict the diseases in future generations from current parents. They are also useful to generate biotechnological products.