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Human genome

The complete sequence of all 20,000-25,000 human genes. That is, which chromosomes they are in and whereabouts the gene appears on that chromosome's piece of DNA.

Eukaryotic cells

Cells that make up animals, plants, fungi and protista. They are three-dimensional, membrane-bound sacs containing cytoplasm, a nucleus and a range of membrane-bound organelles.


A polymer made up of amino acids joined by peptide bonds. The amino acids present and the order in which they occur vary from one protein to another.


The part of a cell that controls the cell function and contains the chromosomes.


The transfer of characteristics from parents to children through their genes.


Reusable protein molecules which act as biological catalysts, changing the rate of chemical reactions in the body without being affected themselves


Deoxyribonucleic acid. This is the molecule which contains the genetic code. It coils up tightly inside chromosomes. DNA is a double helix made from two strands which are joined together by pairs of bases.


A chromosome is like a packet of coiled up DNA. Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes. They are in the nucleus of every human cell.

Genes and Inheritance

Genetic information is passed from one generation to the next- this is called inheritance. Genetic information is stored in DNA, which is found in the nucleus of eukaryotic cells. The complete amount of genetic information present in an organism is called the genome.

The DNA double helix
Eleanor Robinson

The human genome contains approximately 20,000-25,000 different genes arranged among 23 pairs of chromosomes. These genes contain the code to make proteins, which are involved in the development and functioning of body organs and systems. Proteins are essential to life and have many functions in the body, for example, as enzymes, regulators and structural molecules.


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How to use this site

There are a number of interactive features in this e-source:


    A list of often difficult or specialised words with their definitions.

  • A glossary of terms: any word with a glossary entry is highlighted like this. Moving the mouse over the highlighted word will show a definition of that word.
  • Quick questions: at the end of most pages or sections there is a question or set of quick questions to test your understanding.
  • Animations: most of the animations can be expanded to full screen size, ideal for showing on an interactive whiteboard. The animations will play all the way through or can be viewed one section at a time.
  • Downloads: Teachers can download individual diagrams, animations and other content from the Download Library area of the website. Terms and Conditions apply.