New insights into the software of life

Sep 02, 2005

A series of discoveries by an international consortium of scientists, including a team from The University of Queensland's Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB), will transform our understanding of how our genome works to produce a complex organism like a human being.
The findings of the consortium 'FANTOM', led by the Genomic Sciences Center, RIKEN Yokohama Institute and Genome Science Laboratory and RIKEN Wako Institute, will be published today in two papers in the prestigious journal Science.

Spokesman for the IMB team Professor David Hume, who has been a member of the FANTOM consortium for the past 5 years, and a senior author on both papers, said the massive data sets produced by the consortium, which were on the same scale as the completion of the human genome sequence, provided the scientific community with the tools to understand the control of protein production, truly the software of life.

"Genes provide the code for making the building blocks of our bodies - the proteins – and the consortium has a made a massive step towards identifying all of those building blocks. But the genome must also contain the code to ensure that protein building blocks are made in the right place at the right time.

"The new data provides several indications of the molecular basis of evolution and why we are so much more complex than the simple worm, despite the fact that we only have a small number of additional conventional genes.

"In simple terms, the data shows that in mammals each individual gene uses multiple different mechanisms to produce different forms of protein. In a sense, each 'gene' is actually multiple different genes," Professor Hume explained.

The second of the papers in Science deals extensively with another area to which the IMB team has made a major contribution; outputs of the genome (RNAs) that do not code for protein.

IMB Director Professor John Mattick, co-author of these papers, has predicted the importance of non-coding RNA in development and evolution in a series of papers published internationally over the past five years, including an article published in this same issue of Science entitled Functional genomics of non-coding RNA.

"I congratulate all IMB staff and students involved in this research collaboration, particularly David Hume who has been pivotal in developing the IMB's partnership with RIKEN over several years."

As part of the collaboration with RIKEN, Professor Hume's group has recently been awarded a grant from RIKEN to continue the translation of this work into the next phase, the Human Genome network project.

Source: Research Australia

Explore further: Which foods may cost you more due to Calif. drought

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New algae species is named after UA researcher

Oct 10, 2012

University of Arizona research associate Patrick Ferris, who has spent nearly 30 years studying algae, recently was honored when a Japanese team named a newly discovered species after him.

Finding genes that control mind and behavior

Nov 01, 2010

The highly sophisticated abilities of humans, such as memory, learning, cognition and thought, are achieved in the brain as a result of dramatic evolutionary development. Personality, preference, behavioral ...

Recommended for you

Which foods may cost you more due to Calif. drought

9 minutes ago

With California experiencing one of its worst droughts on record, grocery shoppers across the country can expect to see a short supply of certain fruits and vegetables in stores, and to pay higher prices ...

Creative activities outside work can improve job performance

10 hours ago

Employees who pursue creative activities outside of work may find that these activities boost their performance on the job, according to a new study by San Francisco State University organizational psychologist Kevin Eschleman ...

Performance measures for CEOs vary greatly, study finds

16 hours ago

As companies file their annual proxy statements with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) this spring, a new study by Rice University and Cornell University shows just how S&P 500 companies have ...

User comments : 0

More news stories