Genetic Disorders: Definition, Development, and Examples

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What are Genetic Disorders

Genetic disorder is a condition where there is a mutation in a genetic material of an organism which leads to certain abnormalities.

We know that each cell in our body contains its one molecule of genetic material, which is known as DNA.

It encodes the cell to perform its particular function by giving instructions to the cell.

If there is any defect in the genetic material it leads to mutation or any other infections which leads to genetic disorders.

Cause of Genetic Disorders

Genetic disorders occurs when there is change in particular segment of a DNA or change or loss of a particular part of DNA or a whole chromosome, which is present within the body cells.

Almost all cells in our body contains an elongated strand of DNA. Each DNA is made of nucleosides and phosphate groups which encodes the cells to work in an appropriate manner so that the functioning of body remains stable.

DNA’s are placed in a chromosome, where each chromosome contains the small segment of DNA which is called as Genes.

It provides instructions to the body. Human body consists of about 23 pair of chromosomes where each parent sends their copy of one pair to their offspring’s, when such genes are passed to a next generation, a defect or mutation in a particular gene causes genetic disorder.

If the defect is passed from the past generations, it is said to be inherited. Only few people have this condition of getting inherited disorders.

Genetic disorders are classified into various types depending upon the defect in a chromosome or in a genome.

Before knowing about the disease-causing factors of gene it is important to about human genome.

Human Genome

All the gene and DNA which is required to build a human is referred to as human genome. Human Genome Project (HGP) is one of the global research projects which is used to map the human genome.

This project helps in sequencing the genes and to know about their different function.

HGP found that there are about 20,000 to 25,000 genes in the human genome. It also found the genomes and their appropriate functions which helped us to find the disease-causing factor of the genes depending upon the mutation in the bases of the DNA, such as adenine, thymine, guanine and cytosine.

Each DNA molecule is made up of two strands of DNA Which are coiled around each other in a form of a spiral ladder.

The bases are present in between the two strands, in a combination of adenine with thymine or cytosine with guanine.

A change in these combinations also leads to mutation. This change in order of these base pairs affect the instructions that are provided to the body to function.

DNA sequencing is referred too as reading of these base pairs. Thus, sequencing of genomes provides a better understanding in causative organism of diseases.

A change or fault in this condition of a DNA causes a genetic condition.

Since this genetic information is passed to their offspring’s through parents they are considered as inherited.

But not everyone from this generation will be affected by this because it also depends upon the passing of traits.

Genetic disorder has the capability to affect any of the genomes which involves many symptoms and causative factors.

Development of Genetic Disorders

Genetic characteristics pass from past generation through future generation between the families.

When parents pass their traits to the children, in some cases they tend to pass their disorders too. Each parent; both father and mother pass half a copy of their genes to their children which is commonly called as allele.

When two form of alleles are passed from parent to the children, the cells in the body of a offspring take the information from only one pair of that allele, which is known as dominant allele, and the other pair of alleles which is least concerned is referred to as recessive allele.

In such cases the person develops a genetic disorder if he gets either one of the dominant alleles or both the recessive allele from the infected parent.

Factors of Genetic Disorders

Genetic disorders are caused by many factors such as single gene inheritance, multifactorial inheritance, chromosomal inheritance and mitochondrial inheritance.

Single Gene Genetic Disorders

Single gene disorder is also known as monogenic disorder.

It is caused due to the mutations in a single gene caused in an individual and they are passed to the upcoming generations due to various factors such as Genomic imprinting and uniparental disomy.

Sometimes these conditions may also cause due to invitro fertilization.

In many cases, the congenital metabolic disorders, which are also known as inborn errors of metabolism are also due to single gene defects.

Single genes disorders also result in autosomal dominant disorders such as Huntington’s disease or Autosomal recessive disorders such as sickle cell disease, cystic fibrosis, phenylketonuria and thalassemia. 

It also results in X-linked and Y- linked inherited disorders such as turners’ disorder.

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Multifactorial Inheritance

Multifactorial inheritance is caused as a result of combination of both genetic factors and environment influences.

The non-genetic factors that influence the individual is smoking, alcohol, cancer, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease, etc.

Chromosomal Inheritance

Chromosomal abnormalities are due to the mutation or change in a chromosome of an individual such as having a lesser number of chromosomes than usual, having extra chromosomes or change in structure of any of the chromosomes.

Downs syndrome is one of the examples of chromosomal abnormality.

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Mitochondrial Inheritance

This is also due to the single gene inherited disorder, it is also known as maternal inheritance and it occurs in rare cases than usual disorders.

This condition occurs as a result of defect in any of the 13 genes that are encoded by mitochondrial DNA, As the developing embryo gets its mitochondria from the egg cells.

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In case the carrying mother is affected this disorder can pass to the offspring.

One of the examples of this type of disorder is Leber’s Hereditary optic neuropathy.

It is also important to know that many mitochondrial disorders are due to defect in the nuclear gene which resembles as such of autosomal recessive inheritance.

Genetic Disorders Diagnosis and Treatment

It is also to be clear that not every genetic disorder leads to death of a progeny. Even though there are no remedies for genetic disorders some can be diagnosed at an early stage.

The genetic disorders such as downs syndrome, and Muscular dystrophy shows no signs until turning into adult.

Even though there is no treatment there is chances of improving the quality of life than degradation such as physiological therapies and management of pain and choosing alternative medications.

Though the treatment of genetic disorders is not yet discovered or it is state of ongoing battle.

However, gene therapy plays an important role in bringing the normal healthy gene into a patient and removing the defective one.

Genetic Disorders Citations


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