The Future Of Genomics

It is clear that although the more than 3 billion letters of the human genetic code have been sequenced, this is only the beginning of the quest to understand the human genome. New tools and fields of scientific research have arisen that enable the acquisition, analysis, storage, modeling, and distribution of the information contained within DNA and protein sequence data. Geneticists will now be able to apply their new tools to benefit human health.

Bioinformatics

Keeping track of the billions of nucleotide base pairs in a complex genome requires substantial computer power. Much of the progress in studying genomes comes from advances in the new scientific field of bioinformatics. Bioinformatics combines biological science, computer science, and information technology to enable the discovery of new biological insights and unifying principles. Bioinformatics utilizes databases to store and integrate the data coming out of genomic research. One such database called the BLAST search allows rapid comparisons between a gene or protein sequence from one organism and similar sequences from all other organisms in a database at the National Center for Biotechnology Information. The BLAST tool allows a worker to find corresponding genes in different organisms. By knowing the function of a gene from a related model species such as a mouse, the researcher can then infer the function of a previously unstudied human gene.

figure 13-9

Two-dimensional gel electrophoresis separates proteins in two steps. The first dimension separates proteins according to their isoelectric points. The second dimension separates proteins according to their molecular weights.

figure 13-9

Two-dimensional gel electrophoresis separates proteins in two steps. The first dimension separates proteins according to their isoelectric points. The second dimension separates proteins according to their molecular weights.

Proteomics

As important as genomes are, it is the proteins they encode that actually carry out the work of cells. To understand how genes work, biologists must understand proteins. Proteomics is the study of all of an organism's proteins, including their identities, structures, interactions, and abundances. A key tool in proteomics is two-dimensional gel electrophoresis, a method that separates the proteins in a sample into individual spots, as shown in Figure 13-9. A researcher can cut out a protein spot from the gel, then use special methods to determine the amino acid sequence in part of the protein.

Using bioinformatics, he or she can then search the DNA of a sequenced genome and match an individual gene to that unique protein. Proteomics and bioinformatics will allow medical researchers to identify new targets for therapeutic drugs and develop new markers for diagnosing disease.

Microarrays

An important tool of the genomic revolution is a technique called DNA microarray, a two-dimensional arrangement of DNA molecules representing thousands of cloned genes. A DNA microarray can show which genes are active in a cell. To prepare the DNA microar-ray, robotic machines arrange tiny amounts of sequences from thousands of genes on a single microscope slide. To investigate, for example, how tumor cells differ from normal cells, mRNA from the tumor is labeled with fluorescent dyes and poured onto the microarray slides. The more mRNA that binds to its complement at a particular spot on the slide, the brighter the color, indicating that this specific gene is highly active. Physicians use DNA microarray analysis to classify patients' cancers. Such classification can lead to better-informed decisions about which type of treatment is best. A DNA microarray is shown on the first page of this chapter.

Was this article helpful?

0 0
Sirens Sleep Solution

Sirens Sleep Solution

Discover How To Sleep In Peace And Harmony In A World Full Of Uncertainty And Dramatically Improve Your Quality Of Life Today! Finally You Can Fully Equip Yourself With These “Must Have” Tools For Achieving Peace And Calmness And Live A Life Of Comfort That You Deserve!

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment