Saturday, September 15, 2007

Three Smart Things You Should Know About Genomics

1. The real benefit of studying genomes is that it has taught us how little we know. We used to think noncoding "junk" DNA didn't do anything. Now it turns out it may contain underlying instructions for how DNA works.

2. Genomics' reductionist approach has become more holistic. Now we also look at all the proteins a cell makes (proteomics), RNA transcription (transcriptomics), molecules that control which DNA gets turned on (epigenomics), and cell energy consumption (metabolomics).

3. Important genes usually exist in multiple copies, in case one iteration gets damaged. This results in lots of leftover, deactivated genes from up the evolutionary tree — solid molecular proof that Darwin was right — birds have genes for teeth; humans share genes with gorillas.

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