Given the damage to the psyche's of most humans caused by colonial misinformation about our African ancestry, the human gene pool may be considering a "product recall".
February 12, 2001
It's a bad day for racists and those with xenophobic tendencies
Genome analysis shows indisputable evidence that all humans are either indigenous Africans or African descendents. If this is not understood do not bother to read on; try crayon.com.
For all others, this is a simple analysis of what the big hullabaloo is all about.
The rival groups behind this research are Celera Genomics of Rockville, Md., and the International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium, a group of academics financed largely by the National Institutes of Health and the Wellcome Trust of London. In a truce last June, the teams jointly announced that each had assembled the human genome, but it has taken them until now to analyze and publish their findings.
The genetic code is actually a long sequence of chemicals contained in DNA. The order of those chemicals along the DNA strands gives basic information for building and running an organism. Genes are certain sequences within the DNA, which also contains vast other areas of sequence with largely unknown functions.
All genetic code is spelled out with just four chemical letters, or bases: adenine (A), thymine (T), cytosine (C) and guanine (G). These pair up, A with T and C with G. The human genome has between 2.8 and 3.5 billion base pairs.
The human body, is set up to adapt to its environment, by cutting up and recombining the protein (products of genes) to make a protein suitable for the circumstance.
The base pairs form the rungs of the ladder-like DNA double helix. Running up and down the ladder are the long sequences of bases which are the code for life. Each cell in the human body contains two metres (six feet) of DNA.
As little as 3% of the total genome is made of genes - the rest are areas of sequence with largely unknown functions. Genes are special sequences of hundreds or thousands of base pairs that provide the templates for all the proteins which the body needs to produce.
The total number of genes is not known - estimates range from 30,000 to 120,000. However many there are, they, and all the junk DNA, are wrapped up into bundles called chromosomes. Every human has 23 pairs of chromosomes, one set from each parent.
The 46 chromosomes are held in the nucleus found in most cells in the human body. Nearly every cell in the body contains the full DNA code for producing a human.
Each of the cells becomes specialised by obeying just some of the instructions in the DNA. Blood, muscle, bone, organs and so on result. The body is built from 100 trillion of these cells.
Genes make proteins -- this is the basic function of any cell.
"Most of biology happens at the protein level, not the DNA level."
What had not been known was the degree to which this is true. The implications could be profound for medical science, which had hoped to find easy genetic answers to disease and to how people will respond to drugs.
Not all genes operate in the simple deterministic way first modelled by Gregor Mendel in 1863's the idea of dominant and recessive traits for things such as hair and eye colour. Human development is controlled by more complicated interactions between genes and chemical "switches" which turn them on and off, and between genes and the environment. The idea that there is a gene "for" this or that, whether it be homosexuality, aging, criminality or intelligence is simply not correct.
Comparing the genomes of plants and animals--lineages that diverged from each other 1.6 billion years ago--is expected to reveal fascinating similarities and differences in how each evolved to cope with life on Earth.
Here's a sampling of findings from the Human Genome Diversity (HGD) Project:
People seem to have only 26,000 to 40,000 genes, which falls low in the previous range of estimates. Both teams called that finding a surprise.
Inherited genetic mutations arise about twice as often in men than women, a finding that confirms a recent study.
Only 1 percent to 1.5 percent of the human DNA carries instructions for making proteins, compared to the 3 percent to 5 percent the researchers expected. Genes tell cells how to make proteins, which are crucial for each cell's structure and functioning.
Along the stretches of DNA, genes tend to occur in clusters, like cities separated by vast stretches of countryside. The clustering turns out to be more pronounced than scientists had thought.
Some 200 human genes apparently arose from genes that were somehow inserted into humanity's early vertebrate ancestors by bacteria. If true, that "would really be a major surprise," commented Johann Peter Gogarten of the University of Connecticut in Storrs.
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