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{bio,medical} informatics

Friday, March 28, 2003

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find related articles. powered by google. Bio-IT World Extracting Jewels, Even from the Junk

"Besides the obvious big issue -- the small number of genes in the human genome - one of the most interesting recent developments regards "junk" DNA. Initially, there was a lot of concern about sequencing so much "junk" DNA (the regions that don't code for genes). But it turns out that junk DNA has a lot of important stuff in it, and now we are seeing a great deal of emphasis on how functional RNA, which is not protein-coding, works as a mechanism for controlling gene expression. It's going to be very important to be able to study this on a genome level - comparing across species and finding conserved sites."

redux [11.21.02]
find related articles. powered by google. SFGate Junk DNA Revisited

"In a provisional patent application filed July 31, Pellionisz claims to have unlocked a key to the hidden role junk DNA plays in growth -- and in life itself.

Rather than being useless evolutionary debris, he says, the mysteriously repetitive but not identical strands of genetic material are in reality building instructions organized in a special type of pattern known as a fractal. It's this pattern of fractal instructions, he says, that tells genes what they must do in order to form living tissue, everything from the wings of a fly to the entire body of a full-grown human."

redux [08.28.02]
find related articles. powered by google. EurekAlert Essential cell division 'zipper' anchors to so-called junk DNA

"In a new study in the August 29 issue of Nature, researchers at The Wistar Institute identify a cohesin-containing protein complex that reshapes chromatin to allow cohesins to bind to DNA. In doing so, they also identified the locations on the human genome where the cohesins bind. Somewhat to their surprise, the binding sites were found to be a repetitive DNA sequence found throughout the human genome for which no previous role had ever been identified. These bits of DNA, known as Alu sequences, are liberally represented along those vast stretches of the human genome not known to directly control genetic activity, sometimes referred to as junk DNA."

redux [08.09.02]
find related articles. powered by google. Science Daily Jumping Genes Can Knock Out DNA; Alter Human Genome

"Results of a new University of Michigan study suggest that junk DNA - dismissed by many scientists as mere strings of meaningless genetic code - could have a darker side.

In a paper published in the Aug. 9 issue of Cell, scientists from the U-M Medical School report that, in cultured human cancer cells, segments of junk DNA called LINE-1 elements can delete DNA when they jump to a new location - possibly knocking out genes or creating devastating mutations in the process."

find related articles. powered by google. Science Daily Retroviruses Shows That Human-Specific Variety Developed When Humans, Chimps Diverged

"Scientists in the past decade have discovered that remnants of ancient germ line infections called human endogenous retroviruses make up a substantial part of the human genome. Once thought to be merely "junk" DNA and inactive, many of these elements, in fact, perform functions in human cells.

Now, a new study by John McDonald of the University of Georgia and King Jordan at the National Center for Biotechnology Information at the National Institutes of Health, suggests for the first time that a burst of transpositional activity occurred at the same time humans and chimps are believed to have diverged from a common ancestor - 6 million years ago."

redux [01.20.01]
find related articles. powered by google. The New York Times Human Genome Project Director Peers Into the Future
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"Speaking at a National Institutes of Health conference on ethical and social issues in genetics, Dr. Francis Collins said that a "spate of papers in public journals'' due out within a month will signify the incredibly rapid pace of scientific discovery seen since the announcement of the nearly complete sequencing of the human genome last summer.

The first, Collins said, will be a paper that puts the total count of human genes at between 30,000 and 35,000. "That's less than half the number most people have been predicting.'' The second is a study ascribing previously unknown biological missions to genes scientists thought were inactive, or so-called "junk genes."

"There is now clear evidence that (the junk genes) have been performing a number of functions for tens or hundreds of thousands of years,'' he said."

[ rhetoric ]

Bioinformatics will be at the core of biology in the 21st century. In fields ranging from structural biology to genomics to biomedical imaging, ready access to data and analytical tools are fundamentally changing the way investigators in the life sciences conduct research and approach problems. Complex, computationally intensive biological problems are now being addressed and promise to significantly advance our understanding of biology and medicine. No biological discipline will be unaffected by these technological breakthroughs.


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