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A CNIO team reduces the size of the human genome to 19,000 genes
Date:7/3/2014

How nutrients are metabolised and how neurons communicate in the brain are just some of the messages coded by the 3 billion letters that make up the human genome. The detection and characterisation of the genes present in this mass of information is a complex task that has been a source of ongoing debate since the first systematic attempts by the Human Genome Project more than ten years ago.

A study led by Alfonso Valencia, Vice-Director of Basic Research at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) and head of the Structural Computational Biology Group, and Michael Tress, researcher at the Group, updates the number of human genes those that can generate proteins to 19,000; 1,700 fewer than the genes in the most recent annotation, and well below the initial estimations of 100,000 genes. The work, published in the journal Human Molecular Genetics, concludes that almost all of these genes have ancestors prior to the appearance of primates 50 million years ago.

"The shrinking human genome," that's how Valencia describes the continuous corrections to the numbers of the protein-coding genes in the human genome over the years that has culminated in the approximately 19,000 human genes described in the present work. "The coding part of the genome [which produces proteins] is constantly moving," he adds: "No one could have imagined a few years ago that such a small number of genes could make something so complex."

The scientists began by analysing proteomics experiments; proteomics is the most powerful tool to detect protein molecules. In order to determine a map of human proteins the researchers integrated data from seven large-scale mass spectrometry studies, from more than 50 human tissues, "in order to verify which genes really do produce proteins " says Valencia.

FEWER THAN TEN NEW GENES SEPARATE MICE AND MEN

The results brought to light just over 12,000 proteins and the res
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Contact: Nuria Noriega
nnoriega@cnio.es
Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncologicas (CNIO)
Source:Eurekalert  

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