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Simplifying Complexity - New Insights Into How Genomes Work
Date:4/1/2010

mechanism that produces an observed regularity. The GENNETEC researchers used sophisticated numerical simulations of DNA folding to prove that the presence of those periodically spaced genes helps determine the structure of the folded or condensed strand of DNA.

They also found that the final shape, which brings related genes close together physically, is important for gene expression.

"What we discovered is that there is a clear link between chromosome structure and gene expression," says Képès, "a link that we can now predict in a very precise and workable way."
Faster, more focused search

When the GENNETEC team combined their new positional predictor with the standard sequence predictor, they found that they could identify new gene-regulator relationships far more efficiently.

"Combining the two predictors allows us to predict the regulators of a particular gene much better, by cutting down on the false hits," says Képès. "We typically double the specificity of the prediction."

One of the consortium partners, NorayBio, based in northern Spain, is developing a commercial software package that will allow researchers worldwide to apply this more powerful approach to deciphering genetic networks.

The consortium is also making a functional, but less sophisticated, version of the software available for free.

While Képès is pleased with this new research tool, he emphasises that the consortium's fundamental research on complex systems is equally important. Their findings can be applied in fields as diverse as designing software that does only what it's supposed to do and engineering systems that, like cells, can respond optimally to a wide variety of situations.
"Cells have just one genome, but with that one genome they can cope with multiple challenges," says Képès. "We can use thi
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