Twenty years ago, the human genome was treated as a Book of Life. Times have changed:
Today, the gaps between our genes, and the switches that direct genetic activity, are emerging as powerful determinants behind how we look and how we get ill – perhaps deciding up to 90% of what makes us different from one another. Understanding this “genetic dark matter”, using the knowledge provided by the human genome sequence, will help us to push further into our species’ genetic secrets …
Dispiritingly, it turned out that our genome contains roughly the same number of genes as a mouse or a fruit fly (around 21,000), and three times less than an onion. Few would argue that humans are three times less complex than an onion. Instead, this discovery suggested that the number of genes in our genome had little to do with our complexity or our difference from other species, as had been previously assumed.Alasdair Mackenzie and Andreas Kolb, “The human genome at 20: how biology’s most-hyped breakthrough led to anticlimax and arrests” at The Conversation
That was an important find. Watching learned ignorance fly out the window, along with its easy and dogmatic assumptions, must have been fun. Here’s another one:
The non-coding genome, which makes up the remaining 98.3% of our DNA, doesn’t code proteins. This largely unknown section of the genome was once dismissed as “junk DNA”, previously thought to be useless. It contained no protein-creating genes, so it was assumed the non-coding genome had little to do with the stuff of life.
Bewilderingly, scientists found that the non-coding genome was actually responsible for the majority of information that impacted disease development in humans. Such findings have made it clear that the non-coding genome is actually far more important than previously thought.Alasdair Mackenzie and Andreas Kolb, “The human genome at 20: how biology’s most-hyped breakthrough led to anticlimax and arrests” at The Conversation
And they’ve only just begun rattling the Darwinian cages…