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3.10: Human Genome

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    What is your genetic code?

    The sequence of letters above represents bases in someone's DNA. It is now possible to find out a person's entire genetic code by determining all the bases in his or her DNA. What might be the benefits?

    Human Genome Project

    A person’s genome is all of his or her genetic information. In other words, the human genome is all the information that makes us human. And unless you have an identical twin, your genome is unique. No one else has a genome just like yours, though all our genomes are similar.

    The Human Genome Project (Figure below) was an international effort to sequence all 3 billion bases that make up our DNA and to identify within this code more than 20,000 human genes. Scientists also completed a chromosome map, identifying where the genes are located on each of the chromosomes. The Human Genome Project was completed in 2003. Though the Human Genome Project is finished, analysis of the data will continue for many years. To say the Human Genome Project has been beneficial to mankind would be an understatement.

    Karyotype of human chromosomes
    Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\): To complete the Human Genome Project, all 23 pairs of chromosomes in the human body were sequenced. Each chromosome contains thousands of genes. This is a karyotype, a visual representation of an individual’s chromosomes lined up by size.

    Exciting applications of the Human Genome Project include the following:

    • The genetic basis for many diseases can be more easily determined. Now there are tests for over 1,000 genetic disorders.
    • The technologies developed during this effort, and since the completion of this project, will reduce the cost of sequencing a person's genome. This may eventually allow many people to sequence their individual genome.
    • Analysis of your own genome could determine if you are at risk for specific diseases.
    • Knowing you might be genetically prone to a certain disease would allow you to make preventive lifestyle changes or have medical screenings.

    The video Our Molecular Selves discusses the human genome, and is available at http://www.genome.gov/25520211 or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EK3g6px7Ik. Genome, Unlocking Life's Code is the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History's exhibit on the human genome. See http://unlockinglifescode.org to visit the exhibit.

    Summary

    • The Human Genome Project involved an international effort to sequence all 3 billion bases that make up our DNA and to identify within this code more than 20,000 human genes.
    • Analysis of your own genome could determine if you are at risk for specific diseases.

    Explore More

    Use the resources below to answer the questions that follow.

    Explore More I

    1. Describe the method used by the Human Genome Project.
    2. What method was used by the Celera group?
    3. What did the Human Genome Project do with their project data within 24 hours of collection?
    4. After 3 years of sequencing, what was the status of the two group’s progress in completing the project? Were they ahead or behind schedule?

    Explore More II

    1. What is the goal of the personal genome project?
    2. What information are they seeking besides a person's genome?
    3. Why participate in the PGP?

    Review

    1. What is a person's genome?
    2. Describe the Human Genome Project.
    3. Would you want to know your own genome? Why or why not?