Chromosome 22. The smallest human chromosome. Its sequencing was completed in 1999, this achievement represents the first step in the complete sequencing of the human genome.
A beautiful project
The Human Genome Project was first discussed in 1984 but it is only in 1997 that a program was created whith the purpose of carrying out the complete sequencing of human genome.
The International Consortium, which is composed of 20 sequencing centers in 6 different countries, announced the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003, more than 2 years before the original deadline.
The DNA saga
Sequencing of the human genome would have never been possible whitout the contribution of the American biochemist Edwin Chargaff, who discovered in 1950, that the DNA molecule, the support of genetic information and heredity, was, in fact, a macromolecule composed itself of 4 types of smaller molecules called nucleotides, distinguished by their nitrogen bases.
It is only 4 years later that James Watson and Francis Cric publish in Nature the hypothesis of a double helix structure based on Rosalind Franklin's work. This discovery allowed the understanding of genetic replication and transmission.
About twenty years later, Frédérick Sanger developed a technique enabling the sequencing of nucleic acids. This is how, in 1977, he sequenced the first genome : the one of bacteriophage phiX174 long of 5 386 base paires. His method was later perfected during one of the Human Genome Project program.
3.2 billion base pairs later
The sequencing of the human genome will have allowed to know the number of coding genes, to discover the importance of non-coding sequences and to be aware of the significance non-coding RNAs, such as microRNAs known to regulate numerous physiological functions.
Since the sequencing of human genome, different species (bacterial, vegetal, animal, ...) have been sequenced, opening doors for new hope on improving knowledge of diseases.
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