How Does DNA Store Information?

DNA stores information in a sequence of adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine on a backbone of two deoxyribose molecules, which intertwine in a double helix. In nature, this information is read by RNA molecules and turned into proteins.

It is possible to encode digital data used by humans into synthetic DNA and read it back out. Because the four bases of this synthetic DNA are directly mapped to bit sequences used by humans, this is a relatively straightforward process.

However, in a complex living organism, reading the information in DNA is much more complicated. DNA is read by messenger RNA, or mRNA, which is used by translation RNA, or tRNA, to create the amino acids and proteins on which life depends. This process is largely understood, and the sequences of DNA that are responsible for which amino acids are also known. However, the part of the DNA that is used to create RNA and ultimately proteins depends on what the cell is and its immediate environmental conditions. Determining the physical result of these proteins, such as the creation and development of organs, requires complex analysis and observation. Accordingly, translating raw genetic code into an organism's physical form and attributes without actually creating the organism in question is extremely difficult.