European scientists, led by researchers from the University of Geneva (UNIGE)'s Faculty of Medicine in the context of the GEUVADIS project, today present a map that points to the genetic causes of differences between people. The study, published in Nature and Nature Biotechnology, offers the largest-ever dataset linking human genomes to gene activity at the level of RNA.
Understanding how each person's unique genome makes them more or less susceptible to disease is one of the biggest challenges in science today. Geneticists study how different genetic profiles affect how certain genes are turned on or off in different people, which could be the cause of a number of genetic disorders.
Largest-ever human RNA sequencing study
Today's study, conducted by over 50 scientists from nine European institutes, measured gene activity (i.e. gene expression) by sequencing RNA in human cells from 462 individuals, whose full genome sequences had already been published as part of the 1000 Genomes Project. This study adds a functional interpretation to the most important catalogue of human genomes.
'The richness of genetic variation that affects the regulation of most of our genes surprised us,' says study coordinator Tuuli Lappalainen, previously at UNIGE and now at Stanford University. 'It is important that we figure out the general laws of how the human genome works, rather than just delving into individual genes.' The biological discovery was enabled by a staggering amount of RNA data from multiple human populations. 'We have set new standards for production, analysis and dissemination of large RNA-sequencing datasets,' adds Peter 't Hoen from Leiden University Medical Center, who coordinated technical analysis of the data.
A boost for personalised medicine
Knowing which genetic variants are responsible for differences in gene activity among individuals can give powerful clues for diagnosis, prognosi
|Contact: Emmanouil Dermitzakis|
Universit de Genve