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DNA and Molecular Genetics
Updated on March 10, 2023
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DNA and Molecular Genetics
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Genetics has become one of the most diverse branches of science as it deals with heredity, inheritance, and how certain traits are expressed.

Molecular genetics focuses more on the molecules at work in genetics—specifically DNA, RNA, and the proteins responsible for expressing traits. 

This branch of genetics is instrumental in diagnosing genetic disorders. With molecular genetics, scientists and doctors can pinpoint abnormalities or changes within gene sequences.

The study of human DNA has propelled modern medicine towards actionable solutions for even the most difficult genetic conditions and mutations. By observing the molecular structure of DNA, geneticists can determine any deviation and mutation that may cause trouble down the road.

DNA and Molecular Genetics 2

What is Molecular Genetics?

Molecular genetics is concerned with what makes DNA—that is, the molecules that are at work.1 It’s a biomedical science concerned with human genes and the genetic material DNA consists of, as well as their nucleotide sequences and structures. 

It is also considered the marriage of genetics and molecular biology, the study of the building blocks of every object.

Geneticists, scientists, and medical professionals can determine how genes work and how any divergence from the norm can contribute to genetic disorders and abnormalities by exploring the special processes and properties of DNA molecules.

Under molecular genetics, there are the following sub-branches:

  • Genomics - The study of the nucleotide sequence, how it works, how it functions in chromosomes in living organisms, etc.
  • Proteomics - The study of proteins when it comes to DNA replication.

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Is Molecular Genetics Different from Genetics?

Yes. Molecular genetics falls under genetics.

Genetics is a broader branch of biology that deals with anything related to genes, traits, and inheritance. It’s the study of how genes are passed down from parents to offspring through DNA sequences.2

19th-century monk Gregor Mendel’s famed pea plant experiments laid the foundation for modern genetics. Since then, niche branches of genetics have become specializations, such as:

  • Classical genetics
  • Developmental genetics
  • Evolutionary genetics
  • Molecular genetics
  • Neurogenetics
  • Population genetics
  • Statistical genetics

What is DNA made up of?

DNA has a double helix structure that’s made up of chemical components called nucleotides.3

Nucleotides are comprised of three parts:

  • A phosphate group — Creates a covalent bond with the sugar group to keep the DNA structure intact.
  • A sugar group — Creates a covalent bond with the phosphate group to keep the DNA structure intact.
  • A nitrogenous base — Carries genetic information and, when multiplied, creates an amino acid sequence that becomes protein, which is the carrier of most day-to-day bodily functions.

The entirety of an organism’s set of DNA or genetic material is called a genome. Each genome has all the instructions necessary for an organism to develop.

Every cell in that organism will have the same genome so that when they replicate themselves, they all still contain the exact same instructions.

What is Molecular Genetic Testing?

Molecular genetic testing is when a DNA segment or a gene sequence is inspected for any mutations.4

It’s compared to normal genetic material and any deviations or mutations are taken note of.

Any variance in a gene is then explored.

Different mutations can lead to different genetic conditions. For example, a copy of a chromosome can lead to specific genetic disorders, depending on which chromosome has been duplicated.

A DNA molecule can also be further looked at to see how its structure contributes to the person’s traits.

Molecular Genetics in Practice

Molecular genetics is being used today all over the world.

When you get a genetic test done to find out more about your ancestry and heritage, you are investing in molecular genetics.

If your parents had a genetic test done on you when they were pregnant with you to determine if you were at risk for any genetic disorder, molecular genetics provided the results.

Geneticists that tap into family history and rely on testing delve into your molecular structure and practice molecular genetics to give you better insight into your health.

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Updated on March 10, 2023
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4 sources cited
Updated on March 10, 2023
  1. Molecular Genetics.” Biology Online.
  2. Genetics.” NIH.
  3. DNA Fact Sheet.” NIH.
  4. Molecular Genetics Testing.” StatPearls.
Angela Natividad
Angela Natividad
Content Contributor
Angela Natividad is the content manager and editor for KnowYourDNA. She loves learning about the latest in DNA.
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