Encyclopedia of How Genomes Function Gets Much Bigger

A big step in understanding the mysteries of the human genome was unveiled today (August 28, 2014) in the form of three analyses that provide the most detailed comparison yet of how the genomes of the fruit fly, roundworm, and human function. The research, published in the August 28, 2014 issue of Nature, compares how the information encoded in the three species’ genomes is “read out,” and how their DNA and proteins are organized into chromosomes. The results add billions of entries to a publicly available archive of functional genomic data. Scientists can use this resource to discover common features that apply to all organisms. These fundamental principles will likely offer insights into how the information in the human genome regulates development, and how it is responsible for diseases. The analyses were conducted by two consortia of scientists that include researchers from the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). Both efforts were funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). One of the consortia, the “model organism Encyclopedia of DNA Elements” (modENCODE) project, catalogued the functional genomic elements in the fruit fly and roundworm. Dr. Susan Celniker and Dr. Gary Karpen of Berkeley Lab’s Life Sciences Division led two fruit fly research groups in this consortium. Dr. Ben Brown, also with the Life Sciences Division, participated in another consortium, ENCODE, to identify the functional elements in the human genome. The consortia are addressing one of the big questions in biology today: now that the human genome and many other genomes have been sequenced, how does the information encoded in an organism’s genome make an organism what it is?
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