Why is Mitochondrial DNA Important?

mtdnaEven if you are not a scientist, it will be easy to understand the importance of mitochondrial DNA. Not only does it perform various roles, but it can also shed light on various aspects of human evolution.

Producing Energy

While most DNA is contained in chromosomes, these ones are stored in the mitochondria. These elements are found in the cells around the body. What it does is take the food we eat and turn them into energy. There are thousands of these contained in every cell. Specifically these are located around the cytoplasm.

The way energy is produced is done by oxidative phosporylation. The basic procedure involves taking sugar and oxygen. These are converted into adenosine triphostate. This leads to further processes and become energy. The importance of mitochondrial DNA becomes obvious; it allows the human body to produce the energy necessary for it to function.

Regulatory Functions

It also keeps the apoptosis in check. Apoptosis refers to the cells’ self destruction. Cells are programmed to destroy themselves after specified periods. However it is this DNA that regulates this activity. Without it, the destruction would occur at a much faster rate than normal.

Producing Vital Elements

This DNA also helps in producing important substances in the body. This includes heme. Heme is a part of hemoglobin. This is the molecule that takes oxygen along the bloodstream. In addition, it also assists in the development of cholesterol. The importance of mitochondrial DNA becomes apparent as these are two of the most vital substances in the body.

The DNA has 37 genes. Almost all of these contain information for making enzymes and RNAs. These are crucial for creating proteins and amino acids. These lead to the creation of more proteins. Just like cholesterol and heme, the amino acids are crucial compounds.

Shedding Light on Evolution

Aside from the above, this element has helped in identifying and establishing genetic relationships. This has been used in solving crimes and forensic science. However it can also be used in determining human origins and evolution. In this regard, the importance of mitochondrial DNA will extend beyond the human body.

As technology has improved, molecular anthropologists have used it in numerous ways. By mapping out the genes of various races, it becomes easy to make evolutionary charts. It also becomes easier to study genetic mutations. These are not necessarily illnesses. Rather they are the elements that give people their unique
characteristics.

With DNA technology, the disputes about the evolution theory may be resolved. The first is that all human beings came from Africa. The other is that we evolved from other species like Homo erectus.

By studying human genes, the problem may be resolved. This may not happen in the near future. But there’s no question that it is clarifying a lot of things already about the subject.

As discoveries are made, the value and importance of mitochondrial DNA will become greater. Not only can it make a difference in the future. It can also make sense of the past and the present.

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