A Pocket-Sized Convective PCR Thermocycler**
Nitin Agrawal, Yassin A. Hassan, and Victor M. Ugaz*
Human genome further unravelled (blatently stolen from BBC News)
The researchers hope to scale the work up to the whole of the genome
The study, which was carried out on just 1% of our DNA code, challenges the view that genes are the main players in driving our biochemistry.
Instead, it suggests genes, so called junk DNA and other elements, together weave an intricate control network.
The work, published in the journals Nature and Genome Research, is to be scaled up to the rest of the genome.
The Encyclopaedia of DNA Elements (Encode) study was a collaborative effort between 80 organisations from around the world.
It has been described as the next step on from the Human Genome Project, which provided the sequence for all of the DNA that makes up the human species' biochemical "book of life".
The researchers focussed on 1% of the human genome sequence, carrying out 80 different types of experiments that generated more than 600 million data points.
The surprising results, explained Tim Hubbard from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, "transform our view of the genome fabric".
The other 97% or so of the genome was said to be made up of "junk" DNA - so called because it had no known biological function.
However, junk DNA may soon need a new moniker.
Dr Hubbard said: "We are now seeing the majority of the rest of the genome is active to some extent."
He explained that the study had found junk DNA was being transcribed, or copied, into RNA - an active molecule that relays information from DNA to the cellular machinery.
He added: "This is a remarkable finding, since most prior research suggested only a fraction of the genome was transcribed."
Dr Birney added that many of the RNA molecules were copying overlapping sequences of DNA.
He said: "The genome looks like it is far more of a network of RNA transcripts that are all collaborating together. Some go off and make proteins; [and] quite a few, although we know they are there, we really do not have a good understanding of what they do.
"This leads to a much more complex picture."
The researchers now hope to scale up their efforts to look at the other 99% of the genome.
By finding out more about its workings, scientists hope to have a better understanding of the mechanics of certain diseases.
Dr Birney said that in the future, they would hope to combine their findings with some of the larger studies that are currently investigating genes known to be associated with particular conditions.
He added: "As we understand these things better, we get better insight into disease, and when we get better insight into disease, we get better insight into diagnosis and the chances to create new drugs."--BBC News