Yale team finds fossil DNA not dead in human genome

The Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project is the effort of hundreds of scientists to describe the workings of the human genome. Their research, outlined in 30 papers published in multiple journals on 5 September has confirmed our genome is far more complex than originally thought. 

Regions that contain instructions for making proteins, which carry out life's functions, account for only about 1 per cent of our genome. ENCODE has shed light on the other 99 per cent. Almost 80 per cent of the genome is biochemically active, much of it involved in some sort of regulation of genes.

Vast regions of our DNA once considered ''junk'' contain some 400,000 regulators called enhancers, which play a key role activating or silencing genes despite residing far away from the gene itself. Yale University researchers played a key role ENCODE, helping to author 9 of the 30 papers published in four journals on 5 September Some of their work is described here.

The massive Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) unveiled 5 September reveals a human genome vastly more rich and complex than envisioned even a decade ago. In a key supporting paper published in the journal Nature, the lab of Yale's Mark Gerstein, the Albert L. Williams Professor of Biomedical Informatics, has found order amidst the seeming chaos of trillions of potential molecular interactions.

The scientists show it is not just the gene, but the network that makes the human genome dynamic.

 ''We now have a parts list of what makes us human,'' Gerstein said. ''What we are doing is figuring out the wiring diagram of how it all works.''