We all know the proteins in our diet. These proteins are broken down in our body into the building blocks with which new proteins are built. But what are the proteins that we often talk about?
Proteins and genes
Proteins should be seen as the machines that carry out all kinds of processes in the body. Many genes are the building blocks for a particular protein. Thus, proteins carry out a huge amount of processes in the body.
The structure of the protein
A (very) small difference in the structure of a protein can have major consequences on its function. For example, a protein that transports a certain nutrient through the body from the gut, is less able to transfer this substance through a small adjustment in its shape. This can cause the body to become deficient in this nutrient. Fortunately, a change in a protein can also have a positive effect.
The DNA as a cookbook
DNA (the whole genome) can be seen as a cookbook. This contains the recipes (genes) for different dishes (proteins) that are made up of different ingredients (amino acids). In the recipe (gene) each ingredient is described (codon). This ensures that each ingredient (amino acid) is added in the right place. If you add all these ingredients neatly in the order of the recipe, you get the complete dish (protein).
Codons: The genetic code
The genetic code determines which amino acids (the building blocks for proteins) and in which order they are placed. A group of three bases forms a so-called codon, and each codon describes an amino acid. By reading the DNA per codon, the laboratory can determine which amino acids and in which order they end up in a protein. The amino acids each have their own form and function, so that each protein has its own functionality.