01 June 2010

Human DNA to Geneticists: "You Don't Know Me"

“Our new technology quickly analyzes huge DNA molecules one at a time, which eliminates the copy machine step, reduces the number of DNA jig-saw pieces and increases the unique qualities of each piece,” Schwartz says. “These advantages allow us to discover novel genetic patterns that are otherwise invisible.” _Newswise
Human geneticists are learning a hard lesson in science: what you still don't know will almost always dwarf what you have learned. Human DNA is far more variable than geneticists have realised. Which means that science journalists and the general public are completely in the dark on the vast magnitude of human genetic variability.
Genetic abnormalities are most often discussed in terms of differences so miniscule they are actually called "snips" -- changes in a single unit along the 3 billion that make up the entire string of human DNA.

...“There’s a whole world beyond SNPs — single nucleotide polymorphisms — and we’ve stepped into that world,” says Brian Teague, a doctoral student in genetics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “There are much bigger changes in there.”

Variation on the order of thousands to hundreds of thousands of DNA’s smallest pieces — large swaths varying in length or location or even showing up in reverse order — appeared 4,205 times in a comparison of DNA from just four people, according to a study published May 31 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Those structural differences popped into clear view through computer analysis of more than 500 linear feet of DNA molecules analyzed by the powerful genome mapping system developed over nearly two decades by David C. Schwartz, professor of chemistry and genetics at UW-Madison.

“We probably have the most comprehensive view of the human genome ever,” Schwartz says. “And the variation we’re seeing in the human genome is something we’ve known was there and important for many years, but we haven’t been able to fully study it.”Newswise_via _SD

This means that as the technology of DNA analysis improves, more and more of the variability of human behaviour and development is likely to be attributed to genetic and epigenetic variability. Environment will continue to be important, since environment can strongly influence gene expression, among other important variables.

But the vast variability of the human genome is becoming more obvious to even the most stubborn denier of HBD (human biological diversity). The best approach for these "deniers of the genes" would be to now focus on how to best use the environment to influence gene expression for optimal development and health.

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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