Genome tools pass big test in fruit flies

th of genetic and molecular information in an attempt to understand this piece of DNA—what genes are there, what they do, how are they organized—as completely as possible," said Rubin.

"One very interesting finding for evolutionary biology came out of this analysis," explained Rubin, "Genes with mutant phenotypes are far more likely to have counterparts in other organisms, including humans, than are genes with no known mutant phenotype."

Their analysis also provided a test for the tools being developed by computational biologists. For example, researchers have obtained gene sequence information from dozens of organisms and have drawn some general conclusions about what those genes "look" like when buried within the millions of consecutive As, Ts, Gs, and Cs, the four bases that make up an organism’s chromosomes.

Computational biologists have used this information to create software programs that scan large stretches of raw sequence data—the exact order of the four bases in DNA—and predict where functional genes might lie within the large stretches of DNA that have not been well studied. Members of the BDGP’s informatics team organized a workshop at a recent international meeting of computational biologists where they compared the experimentally generated data with the predictions generated by several different software programs.

"This kind of competition showed that some programs worked better than others, but the important outcome is that people will be able to take these results and improve their software," said Rubin. "We will have a better set of computational tools as a result."


Contact: Jim Keeley
Howard Hughes Medical Institute

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