National Science Education Standards
Content Standard C: Life Science
The Molecular Basis of Heredity
- Cells store and use information to guide their functions. The genetic information stored in DNA is used to direct the synthesis of the thousands of proteins that each cell requires.
- Cell functions are regulated. Regulation occurs both through changes in the activity of the functions performed by proteins and through the selective expression of individual genes. This regulation allows cells to respond to their environment and to control and coordinate cell growth and division.
- Cells can differentiate, and complex multicellular organisms are formed as a highly organized arrangement of differentiated cells. In the development of these multicellular organisms, the progeny from a single cell form an embryo in which the cells multiply and differentiate to form the many specialized cells, tissues and organs that comprise the final organism. This differentiation is regulated through the expression of different genes.
- In all organisms, the instructions for specifying the characteristics of the organism are carried in DNA, a large polymer formed from subunits of four kinds (A, G, C, and T). The chemical and structural properties of DNA explain how the genetic information that underlies heredity is both encoded in genes (as a string of molecular ''letters") and replicated (by a templating mechanism). Each DNA molecule in a cell forms a single chromosome.
AAAS Benchmarks for Science Literacy
The Physical Setting
The Structure of Matter
- An enormous variety of biological, chemical, and physical phenomena can be explained by changes in the arrangement and motion of atoms and molecules.
The Living Environment
The Human Organism
- The information passed from parents to offspring is coded in DNA molecules, long chains linking just four kinds of smaller molecules, whose precise sequence encodes genetic information.
- The many body cells in an individual can be very different from one another, even though they are all descended from a single cell and thus have essentially identical genetic instructions.
- Different parts of the genetic instructions are used in different types of cells, influenced by the cell's environment and past history.
- Heritable characteristics can include details of biochemistry and anatomical features that are ultimately produced in the development of the organism. By biochemical or anatomical means, heritable characteristics may also influence behavior.
- As successive generations of an embryo's cells form by division, small differences in their immediate environments cause them to develop slightly differently, by activating or inactivating different parts of the DNA information.
- Both genes and environmental factors influence the rate and extent of development.