Sílvia Pérez Lluch, senior researcher in the computational biology of RNA processing laboratory at the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG), talks about the 20th anniversary of the publication of the human genome sequence.
In 2001, Nature and Science published the first sequence of the human genome. But do we know the nearly 3 billion letters that make up what we call our “instructions book”? Sílvia has a clear opinion: “We understand many basic parts of how the genome works, but we still have a lot to learn. We know a lot of genes, which are the basic units that perform the cellular functions, but there are many other regions that we do not yet know what their role is”, explains the scientist.
But in the genome we have much more than genes. There are many regulatory elements of gene expression and also regions whose function is still unknown. Besides, we have to consider the context. Because gene expression depends on the tissue cells are found or the timepoint of the development of the individual.
All these variations allow us to have different cells in our body. “But how can a cell know at what point in development or differentiation it finds itself? Plus, it rarely makes mistakes!”. In Silvia’s words, this is a fascinating issue that she tries to explain everytime she has the opportunity to share knowleadge, either by giving talks in schools or participating in open days. Because, she says, we must always remember that “science belongs to everyone!”.
We invite you to listen to her!