Thursday, August 02, 2007

Redefining the gene

In a paper appearing in the June 2007 special ENCODE issue of Genome Research, Gerstein et al. update the definition of a gene while elaborating on the complexity of gene regulation that has been discovered in recent years. I love this comparison to computer operating systems (OS):
"The execution of the genomic OS does not have as neat a quality as this idea of repetitive calls to a discrete subroutine in a normal computer OS. However, the framework of describing the genome as executed code still has some merit. That is, one can still understand gene transcription in terms of parallel threads of execution, with the caveat that these threads do not follow canonical, modular subroutine structure. Rather, threads of execution are intertwined in a rather "higgledy-piggledy" fashion, very much like what would be described as a sloppy, unstructured computer program code with lots of GOTO statements zipping in and out of loops and other constructs."

Read the full paper in Genome Research
Illustration courtesy:

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Genomic insights

The ENcyclopedia Of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project has published the first assembly of their findings from high-throughput experiments concerning 1% of the human genome. The paper summarises the new knowledge of genome function and organisation that was found throught the experiments. One of the conclusions is that most of what we used to think of as 'junk DNA', actually does have a function in the genome, although it is not by carrying information on protein-coding genes.

Read the news on BBC: Human genome further unravelled and read the publication in Nature
Illustration courtesy: Universite de Geneve

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