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Talking Glossary of Genetic Terms

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Lawrence C. Brody, Ph.D. defines Genetic Code

Genetic Code

The instructions in a gene that tell the cell how to make a specific protein. A, C, G, and T are the "letters" of the DNA code; they stand for the chemicals adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G), and thymine (T), respectively, that make up the nucleotide bases of DNA. Each gene's code combines the four chemicals in various ways to spell out three-letter "words" that specify which amino acid is needed at every step in making a protein.

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Genetic Code

The instructions in a gene that tell the cell how to make a specific protein. A, C, G, and T are the "letters" of the DNA code; they stand for the chemicals adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G), and thymine (T), respectively, that make up the nucleotide bases of DNA. Each gene's code combines the four chemicals in various ways to spell out three-letter "words" that specify which amino acid is needed at every step in making a protein.

Narration Transcription

Genetic code is the term we use for the way that the four bases of DNA--the A, C, G, and Ts--are strung together in a way that the cellular machinery, the ribosome, can read them and turn them into a protein. In the genetic code, each three nucleotides in a row count as a triplet and code for a single amino acid. So each sequence of three codes for an amino acid. And proteins are made up of sometimes hundreds of amino acids. So the code that would make one protein could have hundreds, sometimes even thousands, of triplets contained in it.


Doctor Profile

Lawrence C. Brody, Ph.D.

Lawrence C. Brody, Ph.D.

Occupation
Chief & Senior Investigator, Genome Technology Branch; Head, Molecular Pathogenesis Section

Biography
Dr. Brody investigates the genetics of breast cancer and neural tube defects. As chief of the NHGRI Genome Technology Branch's Molecular Pathogenesis section, he is interested in studying genetic mutations that lead to perturbations in normal metabolic pathways and cause disorders such as cancer and birth defects. His laboratory investigates mutations in two breast cancer-linked genes, breast cancer gene 1 (BRCA1) and breast cancer gene 2 (BRCA2). Dr. Brody's laboratory was among the first to report that women carrying BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations have a higher risk of developing both breast and ovarian cancer than women without such mutations.

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