Genomics: Large-Scale Analysis of DNA Sequences


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Campbell Biology

The entire “library” of genetic instructions that an organism inherits is called its genome. A typical human cell has two similar sets of chromosomes, and each set has approximately 3 billion nucleotide pairs of DNA. If the one-letter abbreviations for the nucleotides of a set were written in letters the size of those you are now reading, the genomic text would fill about 700 biology textbooks.

Since the early 1990s, the pace at which researchers can determine the sequence of a genome has accelerated at an astounding rate, enabled by a revolution in technology. The genome sequence—the entire sequence of nucleotides for a representative member of a species—is now known for humans and many other animals, as well as numerous plants, fungi, bacteria, and archaea. To make sense of the deluge of data from genome-sequencing projects and the growing catalog of known gene functions, scientists are applying a systems biology approach at the cellular and molecular levels. Rather than investigating a single gene at a time, researchers study whole sets of genes (or other DNA) in one or more species—an approach called genomics. Likewise, the term proteomics refers to the study of sets of proteins and their properties. (The entire set of proteins expressed by a given cell, tissue, or organism is called a proteome).

Three important research developments have made the genomic and proteomic approaches possible. One is “highthroughput” technology, tools that can analyze many biological samples very rapidly. The second major development is bioinformatics, the use of computational tools to store, organize, and analyze the huge volume of data that results from high-throughput methods. The third development is the formation of interdisciplinary research teams—groups of diverse specialists that may include computer scientists, mathematicians, engineers, chemists, physicists, and, of course, biologists from a variety of fields. Researchers in such teams aim to learn how the activities of all the proteins and RNAs encoded by the DNA are coordinated in cells and in whole organisms.


Urry, Lisa A.. Campbell Biology. Pearson Education. Kindle Edition.


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