Thursday, August 02, 2007

Redefining the gene

In a paper appearing in the June 2007 special ENCODE issue of Genome Research, Gerstein et al. update the definition of a gene while elaborating on the complexity of gene regulation that has been discovered in recent years. I love this comparison to computer operating systems (OS):
"The execution of the genomic OS does not have as neat a quality as this idea of repetitive calls to a discrete subroutine in a normal computer OS. However, the framework of describing the genome as executed code still has some merit. That is, one can still understand gene transcription in terms of parallel threads of execution, with the caveat that these threads do not follow canonical, modular subroutine structure. Rather, threads of execution are intertwined in a rather "higgledy-piggledy" fashion, very much like what would be described as a sloppy, unstructured computer program code with lots of GOTO statements zipping in and out of loops and other constructs."

Read the full paper in Genome Research
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