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Learning Resources - Biology - You & Your Genes Checklist

Genes and how they affect the way organisms develop

Instructions for how an organism develops are found in the nucleus of its cells.

Genes are instructions for a cell that describe how to make proteins, which may be structural or enzymes.

Genes are sections of very long DNA molecules that make up chromosomes in the nuclei of cells.


Why we look like our parents, brothers and sisters, but not identical to them

Sex cells have only one copy of each chromosome

The occurrence of chromosomes, and hence genes, in pairs relates to their origin from each parents sex cells

Chromosomes in a pair carry the same genes in the same place, but there are different versions of genes called alleles.

A person may have two alleles the same or two different alleles for any gene.

Interpret the inheritance of normal single gene characteristics with a dominant and recessive allele – using gene diagrams

Offspring may have some similarity to their parents because of the combination of maternal and paternal alleles in the fertilized egg

Why different offspring from the same parents can differ from each other

Human males have sex chromosomes XY and females have sex chromosomes XX.

The sex of a human embryo is determined by a gene on the Y chromosome and that there is a link between this gene and the development of sex organs into ovaries or testes.


Should genetic information be used? And can we use our knowledge of genes to prevent disease?

Most characteristics are determined by several genes working together

Most characteristics are also affected by environmental factors i.e. lifestyle factors contributing to disease

A small number of disorders are caused by alleles of a single gene, limited to Huntington’s disorder and cystic fibrosis.


Symptoms of Huntington’s disorder

People can start to show the symptoms of Huntington's disorder at any age, but most symptoms will occur between the ages of 35 and 55 years.

Difficulty remembering things


Lack of concentration

Mood changes

Problems controlling muscles


Symptoms of Cystic Fibrosis (CF)

Severe bowl problems

Cells that make mucus in the body don’t work properly, so the mucus is thicker than usual.


Repeated chest infections

Lung problems.

A person with one recessive allele will not show the associated characteristic, but is a carrier and can pass the allele to their children.

Interpret using, genetic diagrams the inheritance of a single gene disorder, including the risk of a child being a carrier.

The implications of testing adults and fetuses for alleles which cause genetic disease.

Whether or not to have children at all

Whether or not a pregnancy should be terminated.

The implications of the use of genetic testing by others, i.e. screening programmes, by insurance companies and employers.

Gene therapy may make it possible to treat certain genetic diseases.


Genetic Testing

When provided with additional information about the reliability and risks of genetic tests or gene therapy be able to:

Distinguish between questions which could be addressed using a scientific approach, from questions which could not.

Explain clearly – the issue

Summarise different views


Identify/develop arguments based on the following

That the right decision is one that leads to the best outcome

Same actions are never justified because they are unnatural or wrong.


The use of genetic testing by others

Be able to distinguish what can be done – technical feasibility from what should be done – values.

Why different courses of action may be taken in different social and environmental contexts.


What stem cells are and why they could be useful in treating some diseases?

Bacteria, plants and some animals can reproduce asexually to form clones – with identical genes to their parent.

Any difference between clones are likely to be due to environmental factors

Clones of animals occur naturally, when cells of an embryo separate, i.e. identical twins.

Artificially, cloning occurs when the nucleus from an adult body cell is transferred to an empty unfertilized egg cell.

The embryonic stem cells are unspecialised cells that can develop into any type of cell

There is the potential to use stem cells to treat some illnesses

The cells of multicellular organisms become specialized during the early development of the organism.


In cloning embryo’s to produce large numbers of stem cells to treat illnesses can

State clearly what the issue is

Summarise different views held.


Identify/develop arguments based on the ideas that

The right decision is the one that leads to the best outcome.

Certain actions are never justified because they are unnatural or wrong.

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