February 12, 2001An early search of the draft human genome sequence has revealed promising evidence that the completed genome will yield new proteins involved in gene expression. The researchers who performed the analysis found previously unknown genes that appear to encode proteins involved in gene expression.
The researchers also found evidence that the human gene expression machinery is more complex than that of lower animals. This discovery suggests that the more sophisticated machinery for translating genetic information "may be particularly important for shaping human development and physiology," wrote the researchers.
Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator Michael R. Green at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and co-authors Rossella Tupler at the Universitá degli Studi di Pavia and Giovanni Perini at the University of Bologna published their analysis in the February 15, 2001, issue of the journal Nature. The analysis is part of a collection of papers published by Nature that discusses the implications of efforts to sequence the human genome.
"The availability of the human and other genome sequences will revolutionize all fields of biomedical research," wrote the scientists. "But, as the genome itself is the object of gene expression, the impact may be particularly profound for those of us studying this process."
In an interview discussing the Nature article, Green added, "in studying gene expression, as opposed to most other biological processes it is the genome itself that is being explored. The genome contains both the sequences of the players involvedthe proteinsand the sequences of all the signals that govern the expression of the genes."
In their analyses, the scientists searched for genes governing three steps in gene expressionthe transcription of the gene into messenger RNA (mRNA); the
Contact: Jim Keeley
Howard Hughes Medical Institute