One example of why all those genomes from different species are useful to biologists

By Grant Jacobs 14/10/2012

In this video scientists give an example of how knowing the genomes and biology of many species can be put to use. It also gives some idea why biologists do a lot of work on so-called ‘model’ organisms – species that particular functions can be studied closely.

The scientists in the video wanted to locate genes that might be involved in human diseases caused by defects in the base of the little hairs (cilia) that through rhythmically beating move fluids in some parts of our bodies. The video explains how they got a starting list of genes that might be making proteins the form  the base of cilia by comparing genes in humans and two different types of plants, one with cilia and one without.*

It’s a pretty good account of what’s involved—why I’m showing it—although I have to admit I feel a bit frustrated at missing the opportunity to swop an occasional jargon word for a single simple word.

Give it go – feel free to ask if something doesn’t make sense.

Also! – spot the Champagne bottle in the lab. (No doubt a left-over from a lab celebration.)


* Further comparisons not described in the video might have been to take the starting list, then comparing what kind of protein they might be. Some of the genes in their starting list may have included genes not just within the basal body (the base of the cilia), but associated with them in other ways. The proteins in the starting list could be compared with proteins whose function are known. These comparisons can suggest if some of them are likely to be structural proteins that would be part of basal body, enzymes that might be involved in modifying these proteins or regulatory proteins that control genes involved in making cilia basal bodies.

Other articles on Code for life:

What genetic changes make us human?

Doggie ERVs

Tracking disease and human migration through genetics

Haemophilia – towards a cure using genetic engineering

Epigenetics and 3-D gene structure

Guest post: Ruth and her cancer

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