Author Topic: The Encode Project  (Read 378 times)

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Offline shnozzola

The Encode Project
« on: September 05, 2012, 06:56:44 PM »
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Scientists unveiled the results of a massive international project Wednesday that they say debunks the notion that most of our genetic code is made up of so-called junk DNA.

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So in 2003, the National Institutes of Health launched the ENCODE (Encyclopedia of DNA elements) project, at a cost of $288 million. The researchers conducted more than 1,600 experiments to understand what is going on in this supposed genetic wasteland.

The results appear in more than 30 papers published in a slew of leading scientific journals, including Science, Nature and Genome Research.

"So the most amazing thing that we found was that we can ascribe some kind of biochemical activity to 80 percent of the genome. And this really kind of debunks the idea that there's a lot of junk DNA or really if there is any DNA that we would really call junk," NHGRI's Feingold said.

What has been called junk DNA is actually teeming with an intricate web of molecular switches that play crucial roles in regulating genes. The ENCODE project scientists found at least 4 million of these regulatory regions so far.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2012/09/05/160599136/scientists-unveil-google-maps-for-human-genome
“I wanna go ice fishing on Europa, and see if something swims up to the camera lens and licks it.”- Neil deGrasse Tyson

Offline Noman Peopled

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Re: The Encode Project
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2012, 10:03:39 AM »
"So the most amazing thing that we found was that we can ascribe some kind of biochemical activity to 80 percent of the genome. And this really kind of debunks the idea that there's a lot of junk DNA or really if there is any DNA that we would really call junk," NHGRI's Feingold said.
The latter doesn't follow from the former.
Granted, I'm no molecular biologist, but this sentence tripped me up when I first read about Encode. Some biochemical activity? Well, no shit, it's a biomolecule. I was also skeptical due to the sheer scale claimed - I just found it hard to believe that even a few hundred people working for years would find 4 million specific significant genetic functions when people are still arguing about the function of well-known genes.
It seems PZ Myers agrees[1], and he's far from alone (Myers links a few reactions to the presentation of Encode results).
This reminds me of the "life created in lab" nonsense from a year or so back. Now like then, the facts of the matter are quite exciting enough without negligent exaggeration.

Alright, enough negativity! Nay for the PR, yay for the science!
 1. Of course, he's got more than a layman's hunch.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2012, 10:13:30 AM by Noman Peopled »
"Deferinate" itself appears to be a new word... though I'm perfectly carmotic with it.
-xphobe