Adenine (A) and Thymine (T) always bond together, and Guanine (G) and Cytosine (C) are always pairs. These are bound together with hydrogen. The order that these base pairs are lined up in the DNA double helix determines genetic information. The information for multiple genes can be found on one DNA strand. Different cells throughout the body contain different types of DNA strands, which may be thought of as “blueprints” that tell the cells what exactly to do. Therefore, the specific ordering of these four base pairs allows all of an organism’s genetic information to be contained.
The information stored in DNA can be compared to the information stored in your computer.
Since DNA base pairs are so tiny, they can pack a lot of information into a small space. DNA strands are extremely long, but coiled so tightly that they become very small. DNA contains information in a similar way to modern digital computers, except that computers use only two “base pairs”: 0 and 1. In computers, a 0 or 1 is a bit. A bit in and of itself is useless, but when several bits are organized into a byte, the information can code for something such as a letter on a keyboard or the color of a pixel in a photograph. It takes many bytes to store useful information, and technology has allowed us to store this information in small spaces.
Since DNA has four base pairs or “bits”, it can contain even more information in it than computers. Three base pairs make up a codon, which is analogous to a byte. Each codon represents a step in the process of manufacturing a large protein molecule from 20 basic amino acids (small proteins). The large proteins are what help our bodies function.
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