Inheritance 101: How Your Genes Make You YOU

Most people have a working knowledge of genetics. Many of us learned about the basics of genetics and inherited traits back in middle school, but fail to remember the ins and outs of how it works. You might blame genetics for your crooked teeth or a bad back, but there are countless ways that genetic material works together to make you who you are.

Want to learn more about genetics? Keep reading to see how you came to be.

What is the study of genetics?

The study of genetics involves researching genes and DNA in order to figure out which traits and health issues are passed down through a family. These inherited traits can be good or bad depending on how you look at it; for some people inheriting their mother’s blue eyes can be a cool genetic trait. For others, inheriting a medical condition or gene, like the anti smith antibody, can foretell the presence of certain diseases.

By studying genetics, we can answer a few separate questions, namely why we look the way that we do and what might happen to our health down the line. For example, some people are a carrier for mutated genes that can lead to health problems in the future. On the other hand, prenatal genetic testing can help parents better prepare for inherited genetic abnormalities, such as Down syndrome. Through simple blood testing, we can also determine if a person carries abnormal diseases as a result of a mutation, like the presence of the anti smith antibody.

How are genes passed down?

Your DNA is made up of tiny, winding structures called chromosomes. It’s within these structures that your genetic information resides. Humans are born with 46 chromosomes that exist in 23 pairs; each half of the pair is randomly selected from a parent.

It’s thanks to these unique combinations of chromosomes that researchers are able to glean information about a person. Thanks to DNA collection that the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) contains profiles of more than 16 million convicts and over 750,000 crime scenes. By matching DNA patterns, investigators are able to determine if a person is innocent or guilty.

Dominant vs recessive genes

Genetic researchers are most often interested in genetic abnormalities and inherited diseases. Amidst the copies of chromosomes for each parent, you have a chance to inherit a chromosomal abnormality. However, this doesn’t always happen. For example, if you have one parent with an inherited dominant disease, there is a 50% chance you might inherit the gene that caused the disease as well.

A recessive gene, on the other hand, is a little different. Should both parents have copies of a genetic abnormality, there is then a 25% chance that it might be passed onto you, even if both parents don’t develop symptoms of an illness. This would make the parents a carrier of the disease. For example, should both parents have the anti smith antibody, there’s then a 25% chance that you might inherit it.

The field of genetics is rife with developing technologies. When you want to learn more about yourself and your loved ones, don’t hesitate to reach out to ITSI Bio for more information.