The DNA that makes up the human genome can be subdivided into information bytes called genes. Each gene encodes a unique protein that performs a specialized function in the cell. The human genome contains more than 25,000 genes.
Cells use the two-step process of transcription and translation to read each gene and produce the string of amino acids that makes up a protein. The basic rules for translating a gene into a protein are laid out in the Universal Genetic Code.
To see how this works, look over the diagram at the right. Then try it yourself in the activity above!
Funding provided by a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Precollege Science Education Initiative for Biomedical Research Institutions Award (Grants 51000125, 51000176)