Proteins help genes do their job of creating proteins in an endless cycle of creation and control that is essential to life

We often hear about DNA, the double-helix made up of nucleic-acid that makes life as we know it possible. We hear about how damage to DNA can cause disease1 and cause our cells—the most basic unit of life—to die2. We hear a lot about how important DNA is, about how it makes up our genetic code and how critical it is to keep that genetic code healthy and safe. But what is our DNA actually doing for us?

When we boil it down to the basics, the sole purpose of our DNA, with extremely rare exception3, is to create proteins. Proteins are large, complex molecules that are the real workers of our cells; they help give our cells structure, serve as transport molecules, work as antibodies to fight infection, and facilitate important biochemical reactions4. Without proteins, we wouldn’t have much control over how our cells function and respond to the world around us, and this control is essential to survival.

Genes, proteins

Genes are blueprints written in DNA, and the genome is a blueprint library for proteins

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