Friday, June 15, 2007

DNA Study Forces New Thinking on What It Means to Be a Gene

From Science News of the Week

Elizabeth Pennisi

"According to a painstaking new analysis of 1% of the human genome, genes can be sprawling, with far-flung protein-coding and regulatory regions that overlap with other genes.

"As part of the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project, 35 research teams have analyzed 44 regions of the human genome covering 30 million bases and figured out how each base contributes to overall genome function. The results, compiled in a paper in the 14 June issue of Nature and 28 papers in the June issue of Genome Research, provide a litany of new insights and drive home how complex our genetic code really is. For example, protein-coding DNA makes up barely 2% of the overall genome, yet 80% of the bases studied showed signs of being expressed, says Ewan Birney of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory's European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) in Hinxton, U.K., who led the ENCODE analysis."

Read the EBI Press Release (pdf)