Transcript: Solving the Genetic Puzzle 1 | May 31, 1990

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Outside a diner, a man reads the paper, another man juggles and a magician plays tricks. The name “The science Café” appears in neon lights on one of the windows. Inside, the waitress shows a menu that reads “The Science Café proudly offers food for thought. Solving the Genetic Puzzle Part one: The Secrets of DNA. Producer and director: Michael Kushner. Production Assistant: Lisa-Ann Dunley.”

Several clips show people walking on the street, playing tennis, doing tai chi, windsurfing, riding bicycles, etc.

The Narrator says WHAT INVISIBLE THREAD
IS IT THAT WEAVES
OUR LIVES TOGETHER
SO TIGHTLY?
WHAT IS IT THAT RENDERS US
DISTINCT FROM ONE ANOTHER,
YET MAKES US SO ALIKE?
IT'S THE ALMOST
IMPERCEPTIBLE WHICH
SHAPES OUR DESTINIES
FROM BIRTH TO DEATH.
ITS SECRETS ARE
GRADUALLY REVEALED
BY ADVANCES IN
SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERY.

A clip shows, through a microscope, a cell splitting in two.
A caption reads “Lung cell splitting.”

The Narrator continues AT THE MICROSCOPIC LEVEL,
EVERY ORGANISM IS COMPOSED
OF TRILLIONS OF
INDIVIDUAL CELLS.
EACH CELL MUST BE ABLE
TO CONTROL ITS OWN
DEVELOPMENT
AND FUNCTION,
YET WORKS IN CONCERT
WITH ALL THE OTHERS
THAT FRAME A
LIVING CREATURE.
CELLS ALSO CONSTANTLY
DUPLICATE THEMSELVES.
EACH PASSES THROUGH ITS
SUCCESSOR IN PERFECT,
ACCURATE DETAIL
ITS FULL RANGE
OF UNIQUE CAPABILITIES
AND CHARACTERISTICS.

An animated clip shows a cell and several lines in its nucleus, and a caption that reads “Chromatin.”
Then, the lines change and become thicker and thicker, and the caption changes to “Mitosis” and then to “Chromosomes.”

The Narrator continues CONTAINED WITHIN THE CELLS,
ARE THREAD-LIKE STRUCTURES
CALLED CHROMATIN.
DURING CELL
DIVISION OR MITOSIS,
THE CHROMATIN
GATHERS IN DENSE,
THICKENING BODIES
CALLED CHROMOSOMES.
THIS NUCLEAR MATERIAL
CONTAINS THE ENTIRE LIBRARY
OF BLUEPRINTS FOR THE
WORKING OF EVERY CELL
AND THE COMPLETE
ORGANISM.

The clip zooms in into a chromosome and shows sets of buildings and cars blueprints.

The Narrator continues CONTAINED WITHIN THE 23
PAIRS OF CHROMOSOMES,
THE PLANS ARE
CALLED GENES.
EVERYTHING THAT
DISTINGUISHES US -
EYE AND HAIR COLOURING,
HEIGHT AND WEIGHT AND OTHER
MORE INVISIBLE FACTORS
IS DETERMINED
BY THE UNIQUE SET OF
GENES WE INHERIT.
THOUGH NOT KNOWN FOR SURE,
THERE MAY BE AS MANY AS
50,000 IN EVERY HUMAN
BEING WORKING TOGETHER
TO PRODUCE THE TRAITS THAT
DETERMINE OUR INDIVIDUALITY.

An animated clip shows a strand of DNA. A caption reads “DNA, deoxyribonucleic acid.”

The Narrator continues GENES ARE PART OF A
WONDROUS COMPLEX MOLECULE
OF LIFE CALLED,
DEOXYRIBONUCLEIC ACID, OR DNA.
IT IS TIGHTLY WOUND AROUND
SPECIAL PROTEIN MOLECULES
CALLED HISTONES IN AN
INCREDIBLE FEAT OF PACKAGING.
EACH CELL IN YOUR BODY
CONTAINS ENOUGH DNA
TO STRETCH OUT
NEARLY TWO METERS.
IT IS PACKED INTO A SPACE
LESS THAN 1/10,000
OF ITS TOTAL LENGTH.

An animated clip shows a zipper twisted in a helix. A caption reads “Double Helix.”

The Narrator continues IF IT WAS EXTENDED,
DNA WOULD RESEMBLE
A TWO-STRAND ZIPPER
WOUND IN A CORKSCREW SHAPE
CALLED A DOUBLE HELIX.
COMPLETELY UNCOILED, IT
WOULD LOOK LIKE A LADDER.

An animated clip shows a ladder made of molecules. Then, it shows a detail of the molecules with their names: “Phosphoric Acid, Deoxyribose, Purine, Pyrmidine.”

The Narrator continues THE TWO RAILS OF THE
LADDER ARE COMPOSED
OF PHOSPHORIC ACID AND A
SUGAR CALLED DEOXYRIBOSE.
ALTERNATING WITH CONSTANT
REGULARITY DOWN EACH SIDE.
THE RUNGS ARE UNIFORMLY
SPACED AND CONSIST
OF A SIMPLE MOLECULE
CALLED A PURINE
AND ANOTHER CALLED
A PYRIMIDINE.
THEY ARE LINKED THROUGH
RELATIVELY WEAK
HYDROGEN BONDS.
BOTH CONTAIN NITROGEN SO
THE PAIRING IS CALLED
A NITROGENOUS BASE.
EACH GROUP OF SUGAR, ACID
AND NITROGENOUS BASE
IS CALLED A NUCLEOTIDE.

A sheet of paper unrolls, and shows two different purine molecules and two pyrmidine molecules. Captions gradually appears under the molecules “Adenine, Guanine, Thymine, Cytosine.”

The Narrator continues THERE ARE TWO
KINDS OF PURINE;
ONE IS CALLED ADENINE,
ABBREVIATED TO THE LETTER A,
THE OTHER IS GUANINE,
OR G FOR SHORT.
THERE ARE TWO KINDS OF
PYRIMIDINE CALLED
THYMINE AND CYTOSINE,
T AND C.
THE ARRANGEMENT OF THESE
FOUR CHEMICALS IS UNIQUE.
ADENINE AND THYMINE CAN ONLY
COMBINE WITH EACH OTHER
IN TWO DISTINCT WAYS.
GUANINE AND CYTOSINE JOIN
ONLY WITH EACH OTHER,
AGAIN, IN TWO VARIATIONS.
THERE IS NO RESTRICTION
ON HOW THE SEQUENCE
OF MOLECULES FORMS ALONG
EITHER STRAND OF DNA
BECAUSE OF THE UNIQUE
WAYS THEY COUPLE,
EACH SIDE COMPLEMENTS
THE OTHER.

An animated clip shows a stair and four rungs named “A-T, T-A, G-C, C-G” A caption reads “Portion of genetic code.”

The Narrator continues THERE MAY BE AS MANY AS
3 BILLION OF THESE BASE PAIRS
CONTAINED IN THE
CHROMOSOMES.
THE UNIONS CONSTITUTE
GENETIC CODE.

The names of the rungs start to change.

The Narrator continues DIFFERENT SEQUENCES CREATE
DIFFERENT CODES AND PLAY
AN IMPORTANT ROLE
IN HEREDITY.

An animated clip shows a spermatozoa and an ovule, with a caption that reads “Half the full genetic compliment.”
Then, the cells join together, and a caption reads “Full genetic complement.”

The Narrator continues AT CONCEPTION, THE GENETIC
MATERIAL FROM ONE PARENT
MATES WITH THAT
OF THE OTHER.
EACH SEX CELL CONTAINS HALF
THE GENETIC INFORMATION
CONTAINED IN THE
BODY'S OTHER CELLS.
THE NEWLY COMBINED DATA
WITHIN THE DNA IS PASSED ON
FROM MOTHER AND FATHER
TO SON AND DAUGHTER

An animated clip shows a strand of DNA splitting in two.

The Narrator continues IN THOUSANDS UPON THOUSANDS
OF COMBINATIONS.
DURING CELL REPRODUCTION,
THE DNA SPLITS IN TWO.
THE WEAK HYDROGEN BONDS ARE
SEPARATED BY AN ENZYME.
BECAUSE OF THE UNIQUE
PAIRING OF PYRIMIDINES
AND PURINES AND THE NATURE
OF COMPLEMENTARITY,
AN EXACT DUPLICATE OF EACH
STRAND OF THE DNA MOLECULE
IS MANUFACTURED.

A clip shows half a stair, and each rung sliding back into place.

The Narrator continues THE LEFT-HAND SIDE OF
THE SEPARATED MOLECULE
REBUILDS THE
MISSING RIGHT SIDE.
THE DETACHED RIGHT SIDE
DOES THE SAME ON ITS LEFT.
IN THIS WAY, DNA'S GENETIC
MATERIAL IS DUPLICATED
AND PASSED ON TO THE
NEW DAUGHTER CELLS
FORMED FROM THE ORIGINAL.
NOW, DNA IS NOT THE
ONLY NUCLEIC ACID
CONTAINED WITHIN
THE CELLS.

An animated clip shows a cell, marking its nucleus and the surrounding cytoplasm. A caption reads “RNA. Ribonucleic acid.”

The Narrator continues UNLIKE DNA, WHICH IS
CONFINED TO THE NUCLEOLUS,
RIBONUCLEIC ACID LOCATED
IN THE CELL'S CORE,
ALSO SPREADS THROUGHOUT
THE CYTOPLASM.

A blue slate appears on screen. It reads “mRNA: Carries information from DNA blueprint to site of protein synthesis. tRNA: Transfers Information into amino acid language. rRNA: Controls manufacturing process.”

The Narrator continues RNA IS MADE UP OF
THREE DISTINCT TYPES:
EACH HAS A VERY SPECIFIC
AND IMPORTANT ROLE TO PLAY
IN THE SYNTHESIS
OF PROTEIN.
LIFE AS WE KNOW IT, COULD
NOT EXIST WITHOUT PROTEINS.
THEY ARE FOUND EVERYWHERE,
IN ALL LIVING ORGANISMS.
PROTEIN IS LIFE'S PRINCIPAL
CONSTRUCTION MATERIAL.
IT DIRECTS AND
REGULATES THE ACTIVITY
OF THE INDIVIDUAL CELL
AND GROUPS OF CELLS.
SOME HUMAN PROTEINS
INCLUDE AMYLASE,
THE SALIVARY ENZYME.
INSULIN IS A HORMONE
THAT HELPS BALANCE
THE LEVEL OF SUGAR IN
THE BLOOD AND CELLS.
PROTEINS CAUSE
MUSCLES TO CONTRACT.
HAEMOGLOBIN IS A
TRANSPORTATION PROTEIN
CARRIED IN THE BLOOD.
KERATIN IS FOUND
IN SKIN AND HAIR.
PROTEIN IS A COMPLEX ORGANIC
COMPOUND MADE OF A CHAIN
CALLED A
POLYPEPTIDE.
ITS LINKS OR COMPONENTS
ARE AMINO ACIDS.
AMINO ACIDS ARE LARGE MOLECULES
COMPOSED PRIMARILY OF:
THE PROTEIN CHAIN SEQUENCES
CAN CONSIST OF A FEW
OR MANY THOUSANDS
OF AMINO ACIDS.

A blue slate appears on screen. It shows different geometrical shapes with names: “Phenylalanine, Leucine, Serine, Tyrosine, Cysteine, Tryptophan, Proline, Histidine, Glutamine, Isoleucine, Methionine, Threonine, Asparagine, Lysine, Arginine, Valine, Alanine, Glycine, Aspartic acid, Glutamic acid.”

The Narrator continues THERE ARE 20 KINDS OF AMINO
ACIDS IN THE HUMAN BODY.
DESPITE THIS RELATIVELY
SMALL ALPHABET,
THERE ARE THOUSANDS
OF DIFFERENT PROTEINS
THAT CAN BE CONSTRUCTED
FROM THESE ESSENTIAL
BUILDING BLOCKS
OF LIFE.
RNA PROTEIN SYNTHESIS
BEGINS WITH THE UNWINDING
OF THE DNA MOLECULE.
BUT ADENINE DOES NOT
BOND WITH THYMINE
AS IT DOES IN DNA.
INSTEAD, IT COMBINES
WITH URACIL.

An animated clip shows an adenine molecule combining with a uracil molecule.

The Narrator continues ALL OTHER PAIRINGS
ARE IDENTICAL.
MESSENGER RNA PICKS UP
INSTRUCTIONS FROM A PORTION
OF THE DNA STRAND WHICH
ACTS AS A TEMPLATE.
THE GENETIC INFORMATION
IS READ IN TRIPLETS
OF MOLECULES
CALLED CODONS.
THIS RESULTS IN 64
POSSIBLE COMBINATIONS
WHICH ARE USED TO PUT
TOGETHER THE 20 AMINO ACIDS
THAT COMPRISE PROTEINS.
TRANSFER RNA CARRIES
THE AMINO ACIDS
INTO THE CELL'S
CYTOPLASM TO A RIBOSOME:
THE PROTEIN
ASSEMBLY SITE.
HERE, THE POLYPEPTIDE
CHAIN IS PUT TOGETHER
ONE AMINO ACID
AFTER ANOTHER,
REGULATED BY THE
RIBOSOMAL RNA.
THE GENETIC CODE IS
READ SEQUENTIALLY
FROM THE STRAND OF
MESSENGER RNA.
AMINO ACIDS COMBINE VERY
EASILY WITH EACH OTHER
BUT UNLESS THEY DO SO IN
THE CORRECT SEQUENCE,
THE MANUFACTURED PROTEIN
SUBSTANCE WILL BE ALTERED.

An animated clip shows a carpenter standing beside a table with blueprints and a bomb that reads “DNA Change.” The bomb then turns into a frog, and then into a dog.

The Narrator continues AT WORST, THIS MINUTE ERROR
IN COMMUNICATION BETWEEN
DNA AND RNA CAN RESULT IN
DISEASE OR DISORDERS.
AT BEST, IT MIGHT CREATE AN
ADVANTAGE IN THE ORGANISM
THAT IS PERPETUATED IN
SUCCEEDING GENERATIONS.
THAT IS WHAT EVOLUTION
IS ALL ABOUT.
AS IT HAPPENS, ONE SUCH
ALTERATION IN THE GENETIC CODE
HAS BEEN LINKED
TO CYSTIC FIBROSIS,
CANADA'S MOST COMMON
GENETIC DISEASE.
THE VARIATION AFFECTS
70 PERCENT OF PEOPLE
SO AFFLICTED.

A slate shows two strands of genetic code, one called Normal Allele, and the other CF Allele. The first one has a CTT highlighted.

The Narrator continues THREE NUCLEOTIDES ARE
MISSING FROM THE GENE.
THIS FLAW DELETES A SINGLE
AMINO ACID OUT OF 1,480.
MISSING IS PHENYLALANINE
AT POSITION 508.
THOUGH IT HAS NOT
BEEN CONFIRMED,
THE PROTEIN PROBABLY AFFECTS
THE TRANSFER OF CHLORIDE IONS
IN AND OUTSIDE OF
THE CELLS.
THIS DISRUPTS SODIUM AND
WATER TRANSPORTATION.

A clip shows a girl using a nebulizer.

The Narrator continues THIS COULD LEAD TO THE
CHARACTERISTIC BUILDUP
OF THICK MUCUS WHICH AFFECTS
THE LUNGS, PANCREAS, LIVER,
SWEAT AND SALIVARY GLANDS,
DIGESTIVE AND REPRODUCTIVE
SYSTEMS OF C.F. PATIENTS.

A black slate with a caption appears. It reads “Computer Animation-Animations Drouin Inc. for Senior Biology: Protein Synthesis.”
Then, it changes to “For more information, read: In Search of the Double Helix Quantum Physics and life by John Gribbon. Biology by Helen Curtis.”

The Narrator continues PART TWO OF THE
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
A DETECTIVE ADVENTURE
OF AWESOME MAGNITUDE.
THE SEARCH FOR A GENETIC
KILLER IN THE DNA MOLECULE.

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A Production of TVOntario

Watch part 2: Cystic Fibrosis, Gene Hunt

Watch: Solving the Genetic Puzzle 1