Nick Wieczorek Byrnes 67 GENOME Life - Chromosome 1 This chapter takes us back to the origins of life.

Chapter one gives us genetic proof that everything traces back to one ancestor and that all life is somehow connected. Having learned about the origin of life and the many theories pertaining to how life truly began, I was not as shocked as I’d otherwise be by this author’s bold claim. However, I had never wondered or learned about genetic codes for other animals. I guess I could’ve figured out that codes for human DNA would relate to those of animals since most testing for medication and disease control is performed on animals. But to think that a codon in a human DNA sequence codes for the same thing it codes for in a plant’s or animal’s didn’t cease to amaze me. Fate - Chromosome 4 This chapter grabbed me right away, and had me until it ended. Of course I had a different kind of fate in mind at first. I was hoping to find that my Chromosome 4 could tell me who I am supposed to be with, what I am supposed to do with my life, what I was put on this earth to do. But no, it just tells me how old I can expect to be when signs of Huntington’s disease would show. Depressing… Anyway, Chromosome 4 consists of a repeating CAG codon-the more repetitions-the shorter you have to live before Huntington’s changes your life and the lives of those around you forever. CAG is a killer on other Chromosomes, too, such as: X-Chromosomes, Chromosome 19, and at least three more. This codon stands between each person and mental illness. Environment - Chromosome 5 Although he’s a hypocrite, Ridley makes a strong point that some diseases, with or without a foundation in a person’s genetics, develop mostly from his/her surroundings. What’s with this breakout of Asthma? Every day, more and more people are developing this disease. There is no way that a disease with such rapid accumulation could be strictly related to DNA. Ridley talks about the hypothesis that environment wholly affects immune systems. Therefore, a person cannot adapt well to a dramatically different environment than he/she is used to and may very well develop an allergy to some of these new and strange surroundings. The rapidly growing numbers and types of allergies give great rise to histamines which create Asthma. Asthma isn’t fate; it’s environment. Disease – Chromosome 9 Chromosome 9 determines our blood types. I guess I always thought that some types were better than others, but there are pluses and minuses to all blood types. Type O people, for instance, are more immune to Malaria than people with blood type AB. However, they are also universal donors, which means that they can give their blood to anyone in a blood transfusion. I guess that can be looked at as both good and bad. If any family member or friend is in need of a blood transfusion, type O people can always help. At the same time, if people always need your blood, you’re bound to experience much light-headedness and possibly several incidents of passing out. Another negative aspect of

Nick Wieczorek Byrnes 67 having type O is that being a universal donor means you are not a universal recipient. That wonderful quality is for those with type AB blood. AB is the rarest blood type in the world; however, it is the easiest blood type to treat in the event of a necessary blood transfusion. Type AB people are also nearly immune to Cholera. In terms of offspring, blood type becomes complicated because there is no “best” combination. So this whole idea of “designer babies” seems ridiculous if there is truly no way to make a person perfect. If certain genes lead to some wonderful benefits, there are bound to be just as many if not more deficits. Personality – Chromosome 11 Although no one will ever win the nature v. nurture debate in terms of personality because it has been proven that a person develops character as a result of both his/her genes and the environment and method in which he/she is raised. A gene called D4DR can be found on a person’s 11th Chromosome. This gene directly affects the amount of dopamine (puts a person in an elated and euphoric mood) that is absorbed by a person’s neurons. The longer a person’s D4DR gene is, the lower his/her response is to dopamine. Hence, people with shorter D4DR genes are easier to please and achieve higher states of happiness from smaller, simpler things. Whereas, those with longer D4DR genes tend to explore more and take more risks in order to feel similar levels of euphoria I just find it truly shocking and amazing that “happy” genes and “risky” genes really exist inside our bodies. Even though our personalities are not completely genetic; it’s just incredible to me that any kind of character trait can be coded for in DNA. Self-Assembly – Chromosome 12 Chapter 12…Definitely the most foreign and confusing chromosome chapter of them all. I think I got that each cell contains somewhat of an outline of the entire of body and I picture it as all gray and faded except for a highlight portion of the body where that cell’s job lies. I’m still a little bit confused, but I think I got it. And that was the worst of it. This chapter also related in a lot of ways to a lot of things we’ve touched on in class in terms of reproduction and development. Ridley talks about stem cells which we just learned about in class. He also more completely discusses selective adhesion of cells which we touched on in class discussions of embryonic development. Selective adhesion is one of the last steps of embryonic development and it is where like cells find like cells and group to correctly perform their collective job. In a nutshell, this chapter was all about putting it all together. Pre-History – Chromosome 13 Well, we’re all related somehow. This chapter was about finding out exactly how and about tracing back to that one ancestor that connects us to so many others. So many small things separate each gene and yet each person is so different. But it all had to start somewhere. Everything does. Take language for instance. There are so many similar roots and sounds in all parts of the world. For example, many Indo-European languages use the sound “m” for words that mean “me” and the sound “t” in words that mean “you.” (Like the French word “tu” which I knew before I read it in the book.) Scientists have studied these procedures and are using similar methods of research to connect common genes in different animals and find a common ancestor.

Nick Wieczorek Byrnes 67 Immortality – Chromosome 14 This chapter was so intriguing. For some reason, it was just easy to follow, easy to understand, and totally interesting. To think that immortality…could actually be achieved, wow. Anyway, there was this theory in this chapter that if scientists can find a way to lengthen telomeres, they would probably be able to lengthen a lifespan. Telomeres are those repeating, yet thought-to-be useless nucleic acid chains on the ends of each chromosome. When cells replicate, thus, they lose this insignificant information as opposed to some integral part of a person’s genetic code. Telomeres were all over this chapter. Memory – Chromosome 16 This chapter focused mainly on learning and instinct, two key elements of survival. Ridley talks about the relationship between the two and how memory connects them as tools for survival. In terms of instinct and learning, one means nothing without the one. A person needs instinct to be able to be taught something; accordingly, there is no starting point for learning without instinct. Ridley also points out that it is impossible to learn without memory. If you make a mistake one time, such as playing ball in the living room and breaking Mom’s favorite vase, then you must remember the consequences you suffered the first time. Hopefully next time you see a fragile object in a room, you’ll have learned not to do anything too active or playing in that room. And of course you would therefore not get punished or “beaten to death” by your mother, hence, you will have “survived.” Death – Chromosome 17 The chapter about death was quite interesting. And not interesting in terms of death. Just interesting because it was hopeful. Scientists and specialists are getting closer and closer every minute to finding a cure for cancer. Everything in this chapter related to our cancer unit in class as well so I picked up on it a little more easily than some other chapters. The gene, Tp53, aids cells in and encourages cell suicide, or as we learned earlier this year-apoptosis. Tumors spread when nothing inhibits cell division. Obviously cell-suicide would take care of that. There are also risks involved when it comes to apoptosis as we learned in class, but it seems to be one of our only hopes in finding a cure for cancer.

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