Abraham Lincoln’s DNA and Other Adventures in Genetics by Philip R Reilly

By Philip R Reilly

Twenty-four real, wide-ranging stories of crime, background, human habit, sickness, and ethics, instructed from the private standpoint of the writer, an eminent physician-lawyer who makes use of the tales to demonstrate the foundations of human genetics. Philip Reilly makes use of those tales to demonstrate the rules of human genetics and to debate the wider concerns.

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It is played out trillions of times, usually in extremely subtle ways, in our cells from the moment of conception until death. Today, as we shall see, molecular biologists can ask far more subtle questions about that minuet. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. ) CHAPTER 3 Toulouse-Lautrec An Artist despite His Genes In the summer of 1997, I had the good fortune to take my family on holiday to Paris. Among the small souvenirs we brought home was a set of coasters for drinks, each depicting a famous Parisian landmark.

Our bodies are constantly reprocessing old red blood cells, which are used up by the millions each minute. Cells in the liver normally use the breakdown products of hemoglobin to manufacture new heme. People with the form of porphyria known as acute intermittent porphyria have a block at the beginning of this recycling pathway. Curiously, some people with the defective gene never become ill, whereas others become severely incapacitated. That is, the disease sometimes appears to skip generations.

When he crossed a dwarf plant with a dwarf plant, the result was always dwarf offspring. From these experiments, repeated hundreds of times, Mendel deduced that in the seed of tall pea plants there was a factor that was transmitted intact through the generations and that was dominant to some corresponding factor in dwarf pea plants. From following crosses of tall plants he deduced that, despite their tallness, all of the hybrids must contain a factor which, if present in the seed of both parents, would yield dwarf plants, and that this happened in about one-fourth of the progeny.

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