"There are only a few hundred genes that we have in the human genome that are not in the mouse genome,"
February 11, 2001 9:45 AM   Subscribe

"There are only a few hundred genes that we have in the human genome that are not in the mouse genome," says Craig Venter, chief scientific officer at Celera Genomics. Information on the human genome released today reveals that there are far fewer genes than first thought - humans only have double the amount that worms and flies do. [more inside...]
posted by hijinx (6 comments total)
In addition, the article reveals that race is (surprise!) not a scientific concept, which is kind of a scientific "duh" to me. Also of note is that males are generally "responsible" for mutations of the base genomes.

While the amount of genes being fewer than expected doesn't make things easier, it means that we might not be as high up on the ol' scale as we thought. I haven't been following any of this up until now, but I find it utterly fascinating.
posted by hijinx at 9:47 AM on February 11, 2001

Perhaps there will be a new book soon "Of Men and Mice"
posted by muppetboy at 12:52 PM on February 11, 2001

Washington Post has a good front-page article


posted by stbalbach at 1:43 PM on February 11, 2001

stbalbach's contribution is a far superior article, I highly reccomend it. Thanks stbalbach.
posted by fiery at 12:14 AM on February 12, 2001

Keep in mind that in order for our genes to express themselves properly, they require a human maternal environment during the embronic and fetal stages.

That is, a lot of what happens is enabled by the complex environment of the human womb, which provides the context for the baby's initial development.

That greatly reduces the number of genes needed compared to, say, frogs, which aren't warm-blooded and must have a large number of proteins coded for in their DNA to handle various conditions under which they might develop. If the temperature is in a certain range, they'll need one enzyme, but if it's a couple degrees warmer, they'll need a different one, and so on. With the constancy of a warm human womb to hang out in, the number of instructions needed decreases - the DNA code can make assumptions about the developmental environment, as it were.

Plus, add chaos theory, and there ya go. Or, here we are.

posted by beth at 11:10 AM on February 12, 2001

Very nice, Beth. There's good discussion of all that in "The Collapse of Chaos" by Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, by the way.

I love the fact that we have only 60% as many genes as *rice*.
posted by rodii at 4:38 PM on February 12, 2001

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