Cells are not just undifferentiated masses of goo, they have microscopic structures similar to the organs of multicellular organisms and one of those is the Mitochondria. Now the principal function of Mitochondria is to convert Glucose and Fatty Acids (cell food) into Adenosine triphosphate which can be used either for energy or to construct cell structures. It also, to a lesser extent, produces a similar chemical, Cyclic adenosine monophosphate, which carries intracellular signals and regulates the conversion of ATP into energy or structural elements.
In addition to supplying cellular energy, mitochondria are involved in other tasks such as signaling, cellular differentiation, cell death, as well as maintaining the control of the cell cycle and cell growth.
To assist in these tasks Mitochondria have their own DNA which both disassembles the incoming Glucose and Fatty Acids and assembles the ATP and AMP designating whether the ATP is to be converted to energy or used by Nucleic DNA for further processing into more complex proteins.
Mitochondrial DNA is unique and distinct from Nucleic DNA, is passed only from mother to offspring, and has no bearing whatever on the unique characteristics of the multicellular organism (what we would normally think of as genetics like hair, eye, and skin color). If damaged or defective though it can produce several diseases related to Cellular respiration (it’s been implicated in Juvenile Diabetes for instance).
The British Parliament has recently approved a procedure that in cases of In Vitro Fertilisation will allow for Doctors in cases where damage to the Mitochondrial DNA is detected to replace that DNA with DNA from a donor, creating a “three parent baby”.
Of course Conservatives are up in arms as they are about anything regarding sex, but a surprising number of supposedly intelligent people are also buying into the concept that this minor procedure opens the door to eugenics and “designer babies”.
We’ll see tonight if Larry is fooled.
Do you know what Mitochondrial DNA is?
Just keeping it 100.
E. Coli Nation
Next week’s guests-
The Daily Show
- Monday 2/9: Patricia Arquette
- Tuesday 2/10: David Axelrod
- Wednesday 2/11: Colin Firth
- Thursday 2/12: TBA
Bob Odenkirk will be on to pitch his new series Better Call Saul which premieres February 8, 2015. I was never into Breaking Bad, the original series that spawned this spin off, so I can’t say from personal knowledge, but critics I’ve read say it’s not nearly as dark as the original and the advertising and preview clips seem to bear this out.
The 2 part web exclusive extended interview with Wes Moore (ugh) and the real news below.