everything you know is wrong--again

From: Damien Broderick (d.broderick@english.unimelb.edu.au)
Date: Sat Feb 02 2002 - 23:48:23 MST

Bless my ears and whiskers, my ignorance is a never-ceasing source of
appalled amazement. I'm reading a quite charming book, THE COMMON THREAD,
about the sequencing of the human genome, by Sir John Sulston (with pop sci
Georgina Ferry). Dr Sulston led the publicly funded British end of the HGP
until 2000, and I'm looking forward to learning the dirt on Francis Collins
vs Craig Venter and all. However, before I can get to that, I'm forced to
plough through a tutorial on how what DNA is and how it works--

And I find that I don't even know where genes are stored.

I'd thought they sat all jumbled up, protein-coding exon chunks jammed in
between the raving lunacy of 98+% of intron viral rubbish plus useful
non-coding control sequences, on what one might regard as the working
strand. Its complementary strand idled in neutral, waiting as a redundant
mirror image useful for proofreading purposes and corrections of chance
errors in the data strand. No. *Both* strands contain genes, running in
opposite directions. Did you know that? Am I the only idiot in the room?

`Some genes are on one strand of DNA and some on the other, read in
opposite directions... Some small genes on one strand can actually sit
inside the introns [the `junk' or non-coding regions] of the other.' (p. 40)

Of course we all knew about reading frames and how they can overlap in some
cases *on the same strand*. But this is entirely fresh to me.

Damien Broderick

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