Emory University scientists have identified and created a map of more than 400,000 insertions and deletions (INDELs) in the human genome that signal a little-explored type of genetic difference among individuals. INDELS are an alternative form of natural genetic variation that differs from the much-studied single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Both types of variation are likely to have a major impact on humans, including their health and susceptibility to disease.
The INDEL research, led by Scott Devine, PhD, assistant professor of biochemistry at Emory University School of Medicine, has been posted online and will be published in the September issue of the journal Genome Research.
The human genome sequence in our DNA contains three billion base pairs of four chemical building blocks Ð adenine, thymine, cytosine, and guanine (A, T, C, G), strung together in different combinations in long chains within 23 pairs of chromosomes. When the first human genome was being sequenced, it became apparent that additional human genomes would have to be sequenced to identify the places in the genetic code that account for human variation. Scientists now know that humans share about 97-99 percent of the genetic code, and the remaining 1-3 percent dictates individual differences. These naturally occurring differences, called polymorphisms, help explain differences in appearance, susceptibility to diseases, and responses to the environment.
SNPs are differences in single chemical bases in the genome sequence, and INDELs result from the insertion and deletion of small pieces of DNA of varying sizes and types. If the human genome is viewed as a genetic instruction book, then SNPs are analogous to single letter changes in the book, whereas INDELs are equivalent to inserting and deleting words or paragraphs.
Most polymorphism discovery projects have focused on SNPs, resulting in the International HapMap Project Ð a catalog and map of more than 10 million SNPs derived from diverse individuals throughout the globe. Dr. Devine and postdoctoral researcher Ryan Mills, PhD, focused instead on INDELs, using a computational approach to examine DNA re-sequences that originally were generated for SNP discovery projects. Thus far they have identified and mapped 415,436 unique INDELs, but they expect to expand the map to between 1 and 2 million by continuing their efforts with additional human sequences.
Dr. Devine says INDELs can be grouped into five major categories, depending on their effect on the genome: (1) insertions or deletions of single base pairs; (2) expansions by only one base pair (monomeric base pair expansions); (3) multi-base pair expansions of 2 to 15 repeats; (4) transposon insertions (insertions of mobile elements); (5) and random DNA sequence insertions or deletions. INDELs already are known to cause human diseases. For example, cystic fibrosis is frequently caused by a three-base-pair deletion in the CFTR gene, and DNA insertions called triplet repeat expansions are implicated in fragile X syndrome and Huntington's disease. Transposon insertions have been identified in hemophilia, muscular dystrophy and cancer.
"Were entering an exciting new era of predictive health where an individuals personal genetic code will provide guidance on healthcare decisions says Dr. Devine. "Our maps of insertions and deletions will be used together with SNP maps to create one big unified map of variation that can identify specific patterns of genetic variation to help us predict the future health of an individual. The next phase of this work is to figure out which changes correspond to changes in human health and develop personalized health treatments. This could include specific drugs tailored to each individual, given their specific genetic code.
Ultimately, each person's genome could be re-sequenced in a doctor's office and his or her genetic code analyzed to make predictions about their future health. Dr. Devine believes the technology holds the promise of predicting whether a person will develop diabetes, mental disorders, cancer, heart disease and a range of other conditions.
Holly Korschun | EurekAlert!
Not of Divided Mind
19.01.2017 | Hertie-Institut für klinische Hirnforschung (HIH)
CRISPR meets single-cell sequencing in new screening method
19.01.2017 | CeMM Forschungszentrum für Molekulare Medizin der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
19.01.2017 | Earth Sciences
19.01.2017 | Life Sciences
19.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy