Sunday, July 13, 2014

This Week's Sci-Light!

Computer generated image of human chromosomes
Source: Guardian Liberty Voice

Since the sequencing of the human genome, the regions known to be protein coding have been steadily decreasing. When Craig Venter first sequenced the human genome in 2001, it was estimated that there were anywhere from 26,000-30,000 protein coding genes. Recent data from seven different studies, including tests carried out by the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre, suggests otherwise. As summarized in the article Human Gene Set Shrinks Again by Jyoti Madhusoodanan, the number of predicted coding genes has decreased by 17,000 making the overall number of protein coding genes 19,000! This discovery is especially astonishing because it reveals how little we understand about the human genome - an area worth investigating further.

These stunning results were gathered from proteomic experiments - experiments designed to look at the entire set of proteins being expressed - from 50 different tissue samples. From looking at the expressed proteins, researchers were able to better estimate how many protein coding genes exist in the human genome. Scientists then compared the human coding region genome to other animals. As reported in an article titled Human Genome Found to have Fewer Genes Again by Margaret Lutze, no proteins were identified that differentiated humans from primates. Additionally, co-author of the study David Juan stated "the number of new genes that separate humans from mice [those genes that have evolved since the split from primates] may even be fewer than ten."

If this has got you sci-curious, click the link to see how many genes humans have compared to worms, you may be surprised!

Written by Jacob Steenwyk