|To make genetic mutations do you have to change
DNA or RNA? Why?
|Question Date: 2007-10-24|
To make genetic mutations you have to change
DNA. RNA is generally "transcribed" or copied
from the DNA template, which is like the master
code. RNA is made in small pieces as needed, and
there can be hundreds of times more RNA than DNA
in a cell at any given time....but RNA is
disposable and is degraded as soon as it is used.
One way to think of this is that DNA is a
textbook, RNA is a handout, and those handouts are
used to get things done and then thrown out. If
you change the handout, only a few people will be
affected, but if you change the textbook then
everyone will be affected forever.
Both are genetic mutations.In our cells, most
RNA is copied from DNA and then eventually
disposed of. DNA is generally permanent, so
changes to DNA (mutations) also tend to be
permanent. But sometimes a cell will notice a
mutation and repair the DNA instead. Also,
changes to some kinds of RNA can affect whether
the cell obeys (transcribes) the original DNA
instructions or not. So changes to both DNA and
RNA can both be described as genetic mutations.
You would need to change DNA to make a
permanent mutation. I'm guessing from your
question that you sort of know how the DNA-RNA
system works. Genes in DNA hold the code for
making proteins; DNA is transcribed into RNA,
which carries the code from the nucleus out into
the cell, where the RNA is translated into an
actual protein. Individual RNA molecules get
destroyed very soon after they are translated into
protein, so if you mutated a strand of RNA this
would only result in a few proteins being made
incorrectly. However, if you mutate the DNA, then
you will permanently change the cell and it will
always make RNA and proteins containing that
DNA - RNA is just the intermediary that goes
between DNA and protein. You can make mutant
proteins by changing RNA, but you won't change the
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