What is a genome?

The genome is known as the code of life. It contains all the information living cells need to come together to form a person, plant, or animal. The genome is encoded by four components found in DNA (coded as A, G, T and C). The cell translates the order, or sequence, in which these components are lined up in the DNA and this leads to the production of proteins. Proteins form the structure of cells and enable the cells to grow, survive and communicate with other cells.

The genome broadly consists of two constituents - coding DNA, called genes, that encode the proteins and non-coding DNA, which regulates the genes’ behaviour within the cell. We, humans, have approximately 20 000 genes that encode our body and its function. The malfunctioning of a single or several of those 20 000 genes have been identified to be the cause of more than 6 000 genetically-based diseases. Some of these genetic alterations affect the cells that may be transmitted from parents to their children and cause inheritable diseases. Others often occur after birth and do not affect inheritable cells.