Gene countdown for Human Genome Project. Previous estimate of gene number was around 100,000. New estimate is 30,000 to 40,000. Perhaps only 300 more than a mouse? Wondering whether anyone really knows? Let’s put things into context with some background.
1. Human genome sequencing is being done twice – by a publicly funded consortium and a biotech company. Each group is using a different method and has produced different results.
2. Since genes work by encoding information to make proteins, at present we assume we have found a gene only when we can associate a protein with it. But only a small amount of human DNA contains codes for protein making. There are long lengths of non-protein-coding DNA between genes. It is not easy to find genes amongst these.
3. Genes are divided into segments of code carrying information interspersed with non-coding sequences. When the body uses information stored in the gene to make a protein the gene is copied, non-coding sequences are removed from the copy and the remaining pieces combined. This allows coding pieces to be recombined in different ways, enabling several proteins to be made from one gene. Even though we may have only double the number of genes as a fly or a worm we may be able to encode five times as many proteins.
4. Richard Myers of Stanford University considers the difference between the human genome and less complex animals’ genomes to be like comparing a sports car with a wreck on wheels which has the same number of parts. “The difference is the quality of the parts and the sophistication with which we put them together.” Thus, we may only have 1% more genes than a mouse, but the way they work together makes us much more than 1% different from a mouse.
5. Of course, if we are only 1% different from a mouse in gene count, which evolutionist is going to be the first to admit the supposed 98.4% similarity to a chimpanzee is now (and was always) a stupid evidence for evolution?
6. The many scientists who consider the long lengths of DNA that do not directly code for proteins to be “junk” left over from evolution really do not know why it is there and should remember the lesson from “vestigial organs.” In 1900 AD there were thought to be 100 useless organs such as the ‘pituitary’ left over from evolution. By 2000 AD all turned out to have important functions, e.g. producing immune cells or hormones.
(Sources Nature, Vol 409, pp814-822, 15 Feb 2001; Nature science update, 12 Feb,2001 Science, Vol 291, p1304, 16 Feb 2001; New Scientist “Genes That Count”, 12 Feb, 2001.)
Editorial Comment: Genes are instructions on how to build a human body. Only the physical part of body building instructions is likely to be stored in the genes. Genesis and the whole Bible teaches that humans are body, soul and spirit, made in the image of God but corrupted by sin. (Ref. human, genome, genes)