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DNA sequencing and sequence variation

Related Terms

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Background

  • DNA sequencing is a technique that researchers use to determine the sequence of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) along a chromosome or in a gene. DNA is located in a compartment of the cell called the nucleus and is packaged in structures called chromosomes. Human cells contain 46 chromosomes (organized into 23 pairs), and each chromosome has hundreds of genes. Genes contain the instructions for making the proteins that perform all the functions in the human body. Chromosomes also contain many other regulatory sequences. A regulatory sequence is a region of DNA that controls how much of a gene will be made, when it will be made, and where in the body it will be made.
  • DNA contains four different chemical compounds called bases: cytosine, thymine, guanine, and adenine. In any given person, these bases are found in a particular order along the chromosomes. The order of these bases stores information for making genes. Even though the DNA sequences of individuals are similar (on average, DNA is about 99.9% identical and 0.1% different between any two people), the differences in DNA between people are important.
  • Differences in DNA between people may be responsible for differences in traits (for example, some people are taller). Changes in DNA, called mutations, may cause some people to develop genetic diseases. For example, Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a disease caused by a genetic mutation that leads to loss of muscle function. By identifying specific genes that are mutated in a disease, researchers can better understand how the disease is caused, and they may be able to use this information to develop drugs to fight the disease.

Methods

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Research

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Implications

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Limitations

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Safety

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Future Research

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.