Thursday, July 24, 2014

Number of Human Genes Revised Downward. Again.

Genomic researchers in Spain have recently proposed a new, lower number of protein-coding genes in the human genome.  Previously, the number of coding genes was estimated by some at nearly 22,000 in the human genome.  The new estimate is approximately 19,000 protein-coding genes.

How can we use this new information in teaching undergraduate A&P?  Well, first we can update the numbers we use when discussing the role of genes in protein synthesis.  If it fits with our course objectives, we can use this as a way to transition to a discussion of coding vs. noncoding genes.

We also have an opportunity to discuss how science works—we are constantly checking our facts and revising our conclusions to improve the accuracy of our knowledge.  And that the story of genomics is far from complete.

I often tell students that I'm trying to tell them "the last, best story" of the human body's structure and function.  So if my story changes over time, that's a good thing!

FREE image you can use in your course

Want to know more?

Size of the human genome reduced to 19,000 genes

  • Science Daily. July 3, 2014
  • Press release in plain English based on information provided by researchers.

Multiple evidence strands suggest that there may be as few as 19 000 human protein-coding genes. 

  • I. Ezkurdia, et al. Human Molecular Genetics, 2014; DOI: 10.1093/hmg/ddu309
  • Research article proposing the newly revised number.  Open access to full text of article.

Want a FREE digital image of the nuclear genome that you can use in your presentation, handout, or other course material?  The image above is in the public domain and can be used in your course materials.

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