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New user-friendly resource connects human genes to biological functions

COLD SPRING HARBOR, N.Y. (Jan. 11, 2011) -- The human genome sequence, initially completed in draft form nearly a decade ago, has revolutionized biological research. But most research findings are buried in the scientific literature, and linking basic biological processes to genomic information can be difficult without substantial effort or training. A new resource that provides easy access to information about genes and their biological functions was just released by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press. This resource, Guide to the Human Genome, is online at The text of the website is also available in a print version.

"A principal goal of the Guide is to provide a comprehensive framework to present all human genes," writes the author, Stewart Scherer. Each of the nearly 300 sections of the Guide describes genes involved in a specific pathway, process, or structurefrom the molecular and cellular levels to developmental and physiological processes. In the online version, these sections contain links to more information about proteins encoded by over 17,000 known or predicted human genes.

For each protein, basic characteristics about its composition and length, its human relatives and relatedness to proteins in other species, and direct links to resources at NCBI are included. Additional links to NCBI resources are provided for human noncoding RNAs and repeated DNA elements and for proteins of interest from other species. The entire text of the Guide is searchable, and tools are available for identifying human protein sequences using those from other species. See for a video demonstration on how to use the Guide.

The Guide, updated on a regular basis, will be useful to researchers looking to connect sequence data with functional information, and can be used in parallel with traditional texts in undergraduate and graduate courses to provide a genomics dimension and experience of identifying genes underpinning processes of interest. "The Guide is not simply a textbook, a database, a review article, or a reference book," writes Scherer. "By combining aspects of all of them, I hope it is useful to students, faculty, and researchers."


Contact: Liz Powers
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

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