The entire genome for the parasite Panagrellus redivivus, commonly known as the bookworm, has been completed. In an article in Science Daily, the specifics on cracking the genetic code of the parasitic worm are listed. The nematode was found to have over 24,000 genes encoded in its DNA, which is nearly the same number as the human genome. Jagan Srinivasan, an assistant professor of biology and biotechnology at Worchester Polytechnic Institute, remarked,
“Humans and nematodes share a common ancestor that lived in the oceans more than 600 million years ago.”
The bookworm’s genome being sequenced is significant because it is the first time the genome of a free-living nematode has been sequenced other than the widely studied C. elegans. Scientists hope to learn from the genome of the bookworm, because they share a common ancestor with humans that dates back 600 million years, in addition to the similar numbers of genes in their DNA. Much has already been learned from C. elegans in recent years, and researchers hope that the bookworm will provide similar breakthroughs. The differences between the male and female nematode, and how they are able to mate is being studied as well. The behavior of the worms will lead to new information about their species for scientists to process, and to learn more about human genetics in comparison. More information on the nematode C. elegans is available in this description.
An article in Science Daily describes the discovery of a new gene that controls three different diseases. Researchers have used ultrasequencing techniques and have sequenced over 20,000 genes of a patient’s Fanconi anemia genome. By using this method researchers have been successful at identifying ERCC4 gene mutations. The ERCC4 gene is related to diseases such as xeroderma pigmentosum and progeria. Both have sensitivity to sunlight, and patients with those two diseases are more susceptible to skin cancer. Fanconi anemia is a progressive form of anemia, with malformation and a high risk of developing leukemia and tumors in the mouth. The ERCC4 gene can be link to three diseases, xeroderma pigmentosum, progeria and Fanconi anemia.
Researchers found that the ERCC4 gene is involved with two DNA repair mechanisms, maintaining the stability of the genome so that the balance among the two repair systems will ultimately determine the disease the patient will obtain. By the research found on the mutation of the ERCC4 gene and knowing the genetic make up of the three diseases, will allow for new approaches of therapy. For example, a sibling’s compatible embryo through an umbilical cord transplant or gene therapy. These finding also expand our knowledge of the two DNA repair mechanisms, which can help with preventing cancer and maintaining gene stability. The researchers indicate that this research will be import to the future studies of the ERCC4 genes possible pole in breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
A recent New York Times article talks about the “arms race” that is taking place in the genetic community. Millions of dollars have been spent in recent years to create a way to quickly and effectively process genetic and other biological information. Mount Sinai medical center recently developed a $3 million supercomputer capable of making quick work of this information, while other New York hospitals and colleges are spending more than half a billion dollars on research facilities! This arms race has become a crucial part of an ongoing war: the war against cancer and other diseases.
The belief is that eventually being able to routinely sequence everyone’s genome would lead to “precision medicine” or treatment based on the unique characteristics of a patient’s genes. John Hopkins is looking to, within the next two years, develop a systematic genomic sequencing program that also includes an individual’s environment, family history and other factors in order to create preventative medicines (seen here) specific to the individual. The hope is that by understanding the genome, and where diseases come from, that scientists and doctors can, at the earliest age, implement preventive measures and medicines to combat diseases.
Although scientists are still a long way from generating useful information from the genome, this new race to be the first to do so, will speed up the process as well as increase the amount of genomes able to be sequenced.
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A decade ago last week (April 14, 2003), the Human Genome Project was completed. This article composes questions with Dr. Green and compares human genome sequencing then and now. He explains how it is now better and faster, but above all way cheaper. The human genome gave scientists a roadmap of humans, and helps in understanding cancer and rare genetic diseases. With this, we are now able to draw blood of a pregnant woman and analyze the DNA of the unborn child. The Hman Genome Project had come a long way, in that, cost is now way cheaper to analyze DNA, and disease are being understood easier now.
The coelacanth, which was thought to be extinct was seen at a fish market in South Africa in 1938. This fish resembles the lungfish, a fresh water fish that can breath air. The coelacanth has fleshy fins that look like limbs. The genome of the coelacanth was decoded Wednesday in the Journal of Nature. This lead scientist that the lungfish is the closer ancestor to the rise of tetrapods. But further research shows that the coelacanth has 2.8 billion units of DNA which is like a human genome, it is decodable. The lungfish is 100billion units of DNA and at this time is not able to be decoded.
Medical colleges across the states are building new research towers to improve technologies in finding answers to medical issues. A new topic in the medical community is creating a genome of cancer patients to, in the future, create more on point treatments for each patients medical needs and also be able to prevent possible cancers in relatives. This will help lead possible cancer victims in the right direction to be able to give better treatment or hopefully avoid being diagnosed all together.
In the article ‘Living
Fossil’ Gets Its Genome Sequenced, it states that analysis of the coelacanth
genome helps explain how some fish moved to land and others changed very little
over time. It was believed that the coelacanth went extinct 70,000 years ago,
but in 1938 some fisherman caught one. It looked remarkably similar to its ancestor
who lived 300,000 years ago. The coelacanth are very rare and they live in deep
sea caves. They die imeadiatly after being caught because they cannot adjust to
the pressure change or the sunlight. This makes them very difficult to study. Fishermen
were taught how to preserve their tissue if they ever caught one. In 2003,
fishermen collected a sample of tissue. In 2011, their genome was sequenced.
Since then, scientist have been analyzing the data. They have concluded that
coelacanth genes change much slower than other organisms. They also found a
fragment of DNA that may have been crucial to making limb ends that helped fish
move onto land. An article in Science Daily states that this research
“gives us our first comprehensive look at the coelacanth’s
place in our evolutionary history, and provides fascinating insights into the
specific vertebrate genes involved in the critical transition from water to
I believe that this is an important scientific discovery, because it will help us gain a greater understanding of evolution.
An article found on Medical News Today along with another article talks about how the Zebra Fish can be used to understand how genes work in health and disease. The zebra fish shares 70% of its protein coding genes with humans, and 84% of its overall genome. Due to this astonishing fact, the zebra fish’s genome is one of three that has been sequenced in great depth. The other two are the human and the mouse. This genome will be crucial to studying diseases in humans in ways that cannot be studied. Zebra fish research has already been used to understand cancer, heart disease and muscular dystrophy. Scientists are hoping to use the genome to undertand the function of specific genes and develop medicines.
The zebra fish is unlike most other vertebrates. They have the highest repeat content in their genome sequences as well as genes that code for sex determination. The zebrafish also has very few pseudogenes, or genes that have lost function through evolution, compared to the human genome.
“Armed with the zebrafish genome, we can now better understand how changes to our genomes result in disease,” said Professor Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard, author and Nobel laureate from the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology.
In the article ‘Jumping
Genes’ May Contribute to Aging-Related Brain Defects, scientists found that
the number of transposons in the brains of fruit flies increases as they get
older. Transposons are also called jumping genes because they transpose
themselves into another part of the genome. This can cause fatal defects.
Another article on transposons called Rare
Form of Active ‘Jumping Genes’ Found in Mammals states that:
Many organisms have developed systems to decrease the
frequency at which jumping genes move, Craig says. Such systems are a component
of immunity, protecting mammals from retroviruses, as well as from the risk
that jumping genes will wreak havoc by interrupting an important gene.
It is believed that transposons have a role in brain development,
but can cause harm later on. Transposons accumulate as flies grow older. In fruit flies, Ago2 protects against transposon
activity. When scientists blocked the Ago2 in young flies, they found that the
young flies had the same amount of transposons as much older flies. The young
flies were then found to have defects in long-term memory that are usually
found in much older flies. The young flies also had shorter life spans as
a result of the increase in active transposons. Scientists believe that transposons
may be accountable for age-related neurodegeneration. This is an important
discovery because it can lead to an understanding of aging, brain development,
and brain defects.
An article published in Science Daily explains a recent study that was published in the journal Genetics, found new information of hybrid mosquitoes that may be resistant to insecticide and malaria infectivity. Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes are responsible for most cases of malaria in Africa. These mosquitoes are more genetically complex than once thought due to interbreeding. The researchers from the study explain that mosquitoes are good at evolving. For the study the researchers collected mosquitoes within a certain distance to the coast, in four different countries. The mosquitoes DNA was observed and there were two major types identified along with a hybrid type. Each type’s whole genome was analyzed creating genetic profiles. These genetic profiles showed that the genomes for genetic variation are shared between the three types. It shows that they three types are as if they were a single species.
In developing countries, mosquito borne illnesses, such as malaria, can be life threatening. Understanding the genetics of the mosquito can help researchers protect people from such disease.