Seventeen years of a long-running national collaboration have resulted in a comprehensive catalog of all the molecular elements responsible for regulating our genes. The project has managed to reveal the position of a wide array of potential regulatory regions. Therefore, this study will empower all human biology studies to carry on.
Only 2% of the three billion base pairs in the human genome are proteins that maintain our bodies and strengthen them. Harbors represent the other 98%, and part of that is the potential regulatory regions, the ones responsible for instructing cells to turn proteins into a complex organism. Unfortunately, non-coding areas have not been studied in-depth, since it is more challenging to do so when compared to gene-coding sequences.
This is why scientists have decided to create The Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE), as a collaboration between the scientists from the National Human Genome Research Institute, whose primary objective was to develop the necessary technology to study the mysterious majority of our genomes. After 17 years of countless studies, ENCODE has managed to bring incredible new practices with the help of several hundred researchers from numerous institutions.
Len Pennacchio, a senior scientist, working for Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, has declared that this study has managed to sequence the human genome, even though scientists are still unable to point the exact location of genes. According to him, the most exciting part of the study was to map the function of genomic dark matter.
The most significant step forward was to determine which areas that present 98% functionality. According to Pennaccchio, ENCODE would prove useful for scientists studying diseases. In order to determine the causes of a specific condition, the first step is to search for genetic variants affected by different areas of the body. Until now, the researchers found useless analysis which would not offer any proper protein-coding sequence.