It is in the news these days: an intercontinental army of some 440 researchers have taken decisive steps to truly understand the human genome, our base program, helped by the much lower costs of genome sequencing achieved recently.
One of the most remarkable results is discarding that most of our genome is "junk DNA". Until recently many though that only some 20% of the genome, the protein-coding segments, were meaningful, while the rest was useless "junk" mysteriously accumulated through the millennia.
Nature is much more efficient than that, it seems, and the reality is that the remaining 80% of the genome is a maze of switches that actually regulate how cells, and the whole body, are built and maintained. A true biological program encoded in DNA.
The main product of this intercontinental effort is a threaded encyclopedia of the human genome, as well as three (freely accessible) articles in Nature:
- Presenting ENCODE (M. Skipper, R. Dhand, P. Campbell)
- Genomics: ENCODE explained (Joseph R. Ecker et al.)
- An integrated encyclopedia of DNA elements in the human genome (ENCODE Project Consortium)