DNA is the abbreviation of DeoxyriboNucleic Acid). For starters, DNA can be thought of as the building blocks of life. It is made of sugars and phosphate. On each sugar, there is one of four bases attached: A, G, C, or T. Two strands of DNA interweave together by the complimentary bonding force of A and T, G and C to form a helix. The genetic information is encoded in the sequence of these four bases pretty much in the same way as the letters in a book.


As we just mentioned, DNA is like the letters in a book. Well think of genes as the words. Genes are functional regions of DNA sequence that encode proteins that are building blocks for cells. Cells in turn are the most basic components of organs and body. Every part of you, from your fingers to your hair to your metabolism, can be traced down to your genes. This is where MyGeneImage comes in. When you send in your samples, we use special probes to find the gene you are most interested in about yourself. We read the sequence of this gene and display the sequence in an artwork that shows you something meaningful about yourself.


If DNA is like letters in a book, and genes are like words, then Chromosomes are definitely the chapters. Your DNA and genes are wrapped together onto one another in a package called a chromosome. Most people have 46 chromosomes, and the genes inside them are responsible for every single physical trait that you have. They are wrapped so tightly that if you took out all of your DNA from every single cell in your body, it would stretch from the Earth to the Moon!

DNA Sequencing

This is what we specialize in. After we receive your cheek samples, we extract DNA from the cells. Then, we apply fluorescent dyes to each DNA so that four different DNA bases are labeled with four different colors. The samples are then loaded into an automated DNA sequencer machine, and a laser activates the dyes in a detection window on each of individual base. Each base will be read by the machine and put out in a graph called a chromatograph.

The "chromatograph" displays the DNA sequence in four different colors. Each color represents one "nucleotide" - *A*, *T*, *C* or *G*, as shown below.

For example, green represents A, red represents T, blue represents C and black represents G. The nucleotide sequence for the gene segment is shown above the chromatograph. Note in the highlighted red box there are two peaks that overlap, one green and one black, that corresponds to A and G, respectively. The overlapping peaks in the highlighted box indicate that each individual parent contributed a different DNA sequence for that gene. One parent contributed an A, the other parent contributed a G for that gene.


© 2008, MyGeneImage, All rights reserved