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New methods offer insight into regulatory DNA

take on a genome-wide survey of gene activity."

A global map of sequence variation and gene activity will be an important tool in the interpretation of variation and disease. Such genome-wide association studies will be able to identify some regions of the genome with strong disease effects.

"The HapMap is proving to be useful in a wide range of applications," commented Dr Panos Deloukas, Senior Investigator, Division of Medical Genetics, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. "The journey for our biomedical research is from DNA sequence to individual people and individual disease. The HapMap is a bridge from sequence data to the differences in individuals."

The project focused on three regions of the human genome. The first, called the ENCODE regions, and about 30 million base-pairs of DNA, are being intensively studied around the world as a group of 'typical' human genome regions. The second was 35million base-pairs of chromosome 21 sequence: three copies of chromosome 21 lead to Down Syndrome. The third was a region of chromosome 20 ?10 million base-pairs ?that is known to be associated with diabetes and obesity.

In comparison with gene sequences that contain the instructions to make proteins, regulatory regions that control genes are relatively poorly understood. Their structure is variable and their distance from the genes they control also varies among genes.

New tools are needed in the search of our genome for the sequences that contribute to disease, tools that will harness the massive amounts of DNA information and transform them into information of real biomedical utility. The methods described here, with the power of the HapMap data and the cell cultures available, will speed that transformation.


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Source:Public Library of Science


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