back to article Beyond the genome: YOU'VE BEEN DECODED, again

Most people have heard of the human genome project (HGP), few have yet heard of the human proteome project (HPP) but it is going to transform your life in a far more fundamental way than the HGP never did. The human genome project was completed in April 2003 - we are currently the only species known to have deciphered its own …

  1. Frankee Llonnygog

    Odd statement

    "we are currently the only species known to have deciphered its own code"

    If you're going to bother asserting that, might as well make it correct

    "we are currently the only species that I know of to have deciphered its own code"

    Amanfrommars may know differently

    1. Just Enough
      Boffin

      Re: Odd statement

      It does seem the most peculiar statement.

      See those dolphins? Smart, but it needs pointed out that their genome research is years behind ours.

      The MegaCows from Jangona7? Advanced inter-galactic spaceships, but it's not known if they've unpicked their DNA yet.

      Yup, we're definitely miles ahead of other species, as far as we know.

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Re: Odd statement

        I'd like to know which species tried and failed to decode their own genomes.

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: Odd statement

          "I'd like to know which species tried and failed to decode their own genomes."

          Intellectualus Propertyus Lawyerus tried, but they failed. Sadly, the ecohippies and their biodiversity hullabaloo say we can't just wipe the species out. I get the preservation of most species, but - like the mosquito - I feel this one should be erased. We'll sort out the consequences later.

          1. Pigeon

            @Trevor

            Mosquitos are one of many pestilential insects. They provide a service, if you like. There was a swampy area in Papua New Guinea which was uninhabitable by humans, and even a local fellow was smart enough to say "It keeps people out".

            We are not the only creatures that think they are more important.

            Sorry to sound criticising, but we are all dust, and modesty and tolerance are implied.

            Trevor (my name)

            1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

              Re: @Trevor

              I care not what role mosquitoes serve. We will help the planet adapt to their absence. Like IP lawyers, they should be made extinct.

              1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

                Deciphered?

                I don't think we have deciphered anything yet. All that was done was separating the whole cipher message into individual codegroups. From there to clear text is still a long way...

                Maybe a more charitable analogy is that of reverse-engineering an unknown binary program. We think we've isolated individual instructions but we don't know the instruction set, so can't tell a MOV from a BCS and not sure about the addressing modes either. Also it's a bit of the mystery as to how the data is stored. And it would be nice to know which register holds the stack pointer. And... well, that's my understanding of the HGP status anyway.

                1. Wzrd1

                  Re: Deciphered?

                  "I don't think we have deciphered anything yet. All that was done was separating the whole cipher message into individual codegroups. From there to clear text is still a long way..."

                  Fair enough, but your example is flawed. While I am far from being a code monkey, I've disassembled a handful of malware programs and ascertained their purpose, exfiltration methods and beaconing abilities. Only one was written in assembly and I'm not great with assembly.

                  CERT analysis and third party analysis confirmed my findings and only once found an additional function I missed that was not critical, but mildly interesting.

                  Now, for DNA, a *lot* of DNA codes for proteins. Some sub-codes code for assembling proteins together into larger proteins.

                  I'll not even begin to go into mitochondrial DNA coding and function, it only adds to complexity.

                  My only real concern is, what is the sample size in different humans?

                  Coding one isn't highly valuable, as there are many, many mutations amongst the various ethnicities alone. Adding sub-groupings that are known adds a thousand or more additional complexities that can be confounders when seeking new drugs that don't work amazingly well for one group and kill another.

                  That said, finding the stack pointer would win the game, as the remainder of your complaints are really based upon that origin (largely and overwhelmingly).

                2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

                  Re: Deciphered?

                  I don't think we have deciphered anything yet. All that was done was separating the whole cipher message into individual codegroups.

                  Agreed. Sequencing is not "deciphering" by any stretch.

                  Mark also goes a bit far with this "genome defines us" hyperbole. The genome is only part of the system - gene expression and environmental influences also have tremendous influence (arguably more than the genome itself) in organism development and phenotypical variation. Claiming the genome "defines" someone is a bit like saying a book is defined by which words are in it.

                  And that stuff about disease and the genome is rubbish too, since many diseases are the result of and/or result in damage to the genome.

              2. Wzrd1

                Re: @Trevor

                "I care not what role mosquitoes serve. We will help the planet adapt to their absence. Like IP lawyers, they should be made extinct."

                Very well, please explain to several species why they are ordained by our idiocy to extinction. Then, explain to those who predate upon them for survival.

                You can also explain how new products will be brought to market without profit, as copyright and patents would go extinct, in a scarcity economy.

                The very first part of examining a problem is examining what the problem is and next, what mitigation will do in terms of good and harm. If the mitigation creates significant "ripples", it is intensely scrutinized and either abandoned as unpredictable or guarded considered further.

                A prime example is to consider Microsoft Windows as a mosquito (or Martin bird, if you prefer), exterminate it and the overwhelming majority of malware in the world would disappear.

                Regrettably, the overwhelming number of computers in the world would also cease to operate. Costs would abound in training staff on using permitted operating systems, support costs would crush entire economies.

                Yes, that is the reality of it, like it or not.

                Personally, I'm OS agnostic, using a half dozen quite happily for various purposes.

                But, in a complex environment like a planet, making a significant change could eliminate dozens of species that may very well include the species causing the significant change.

                Much like making a significant change in DNA coding for a protein. The result may work out brilliantly, but most of the time, indeed, the overwhelming number of times, it is not rewarded with survival.

                1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                  Re: @Trevor

                  "Very well, please explain to several species why they are ordained by our idiocy to extinction. Then, explain to those who predate upon them for survival."

                  Okay, I will. Dear things that eat mosquitoes, and only mosquitoes: you had to die because your food source was a massively annoying vector for various horrible diseases. So sorry.

                  See, that wasn't hard, now was it?

              3. J 3
                Happy

                Re: @Trevor

                There are just some 3,500 known species of mosquitoes (the actual number is expected to be at least 3 times larger), so keep swatting.

                Oh, by the way, "only" about 200 of those species are vectors for disease causing critters.

                1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                  Re: @Trevor

                  @J3, wipe them out. All of them. Viral warfare. Fire. Destruction of the planet. I don't care what it takes!

                  1. Billa Bong

                    Re: @Trevor

                    By 'eck Trev, if this is how you take to mosquitos I dread to think of your opinion on other "parasites of humanity" (I could name you a few). On average a mosi bite is just an annoyance, with an unfortunate end to a very small minority, an average that could be moved further towards benign by assisting developing countries with known defense and treatment for some of the diseases. I say just go buy Jungle Formula and sleep under a net. I personally could live without them, but I don't want to live in a world where we can make the decision to wipe out a species just like that...

              4. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
                Joke

                Re: @Trevor

                I care not what role mosquitoes serve... Like IP lawyers, they should be made extinct.

                Q: What's the difference between an IP lawyer and a mosquito?

                A: One is a blood sucking parasite and the other is an insect.

                Sorry. Couldn't resist.

              5. AndrueC Silver badge
                Thumb Up

                Re: @Trevor

                I care not what role mosquitoes serve.

                On that subject there's a curious (and quite readable) book by Amitov Ghosh.

          2. Wzrd1

            Re: Odd statement

            "I get the preservation of most species, but - like the mosquito - I feel this one should be erased. We'll sort out the consequences later."

            We at Special Circumstances learned long ago, sorting out the consequences later really, really, *really* sucks worse than the original problem did.

            See the sorting out of the consequences of Operation Ajax by the CIA, as a favour for the UK petrol industry for one shining example.

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

        3. AndrueC Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Odd statement

          iI'd like to know which species tried and failed to decode their own genomes.

          Melopsittacus Undulatus. The project was going really well at first but then one of them invented the mirror and funds were immediately diverted into finding out who was doing all the cloning.

  2. JDX Gold badge

    We're also the only species known to make pancakes.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Wrong.

      I have to disagree. I have seen a few horse pancakes in my time. But I must say I found the taste rather off putting.

  3. Paul Smith

    "we are currently the only species known to have deciphered its own code"

    That is just what the mice want you to think.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    A damn fine article

    Very well written and managing to make what could be a very dry subject quite readable, without being patronising.

    +1

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: A damn fine article

      Actually I disagree. Disclaimer - I used to do Mol Biol as a career for a few years before giving up twice (once back to Chemistry and the second time from Chemistry to IT).

      Proteomics as such is _NOT_ paticularly useful. That is one of our biggest problems in understanding how things function. DNA sequence gives you a reasonable amount of info and you can deduce what has happened by comparing two sequence (point mutations, deletions, insertions, etc). You can relate this statistically to diseases, etc without even looking at protein structure.

      Protein sequences on the other hand are of very little usefulness because we have no clue how exactly are they folded and because most sequencing methods fail to pick up how are they glycosilated. That is an enormous can of worms both in the IT sense (folding software) and in the biochemical sense (how to replicate them with all sugary strings attached).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Voland's right hand - Re: A damn fine article

        As to the usefulness of proteomics at the moment, I think I see your point and defer to your greater experience in the subject area. Maybe it's only beginning. I have no experience beyond A-Level Biology, but have found DNA and protein synthesis sufficiently interesting for me to pay attention to articles on those subjects.

        For me, the subject of proteomics was new and I was particularly struck by how well the author explained it all. I find that sort of writing extremely rare, hence my praise.

      2. Wzrd1

        Re: A damn fine article

        "Protein sequences on the other hand are of very little usefulness because we have no clue how exactly are they folded and because most sequencing methods fail to pick up how are they glycosilated. That is an enormous can of worms both in the IT sense (folding software) and in the biochemical sense (how to replicate them with all sugary strings attached)."

        I fundamentally disagree on one ground. Currently, we don't know *what* proteins are chemically (well, save for a sparse few). So, looking at folding calculation is looking at a dictionary that was randomized completely, to the letter level and trying to reverse the randomization *and* not knowing the language it was in.

        Here, we'll get the "formula" (not quite), but not the structure (quite), which would shorten folding calculations profoundly. Learning how the damned things are folded in the first place is, of course, the platinum ring to pluck from the horses nose.

        But, you can't figure the thing out without knowing what its components are beyond carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, the odd nitrogen and occasional other element. Every animal, insect and plant is, essentially hydrocarbons, but we're not bloody oil!

        Figuring out the protein chemical structure is a first step, learning how the damnable things fold is the quantum leap forward.

        Taking step two before step one *always* results in a trip down.

    2. Palf
      Pint

      Re: A damn fine article

      Hear, hear - kudos to the author. It's a massively complex subject and this is yet another baby step, and as such was heroically described.

  5. Bilious

    Most treatments have no need for either genomic or proteomic diagnostics

    Most ailments are easy to diagnose and simple to treat. No proteomics or genomics are required to diagnose a pneumonia or a broken leg. Or even alcoholism.

    And there is a parallel development going on - enabling patients to do their own diagnostics and monitoring with small and cheap handheld instruments.

    1. Christoph Silver badge

      Re: Most treatments have no need for either genomic or proteomic diagnostics

      But it will help if you have an antibiotic resistant pneumonia, and a drug that kills it but that some people are sensitive to.

    2. Chemist

      Re: Most treatments have no need for either genomic or proteomic diagnostics

      "Or even alcoholism."

      The propensity to alcoholism (or other addictions) or it's effects on the individual are very likely to be genetically determined.

    3. phil dude
      Boffin

      Re: Most treatments have no need for either genomic or proteomic diagnostics

      Yes, there are genomic and even proteomic diagnostics being developed - I've made one myself.

      A great of emphasis in the "omics" is to try and find the size of the search space i.e. how big is the genome, proteome, metabolome....and how diverse. And how they interact....

      Each of the disorders you cited has been diagnosed at the molecular level...there is a difference between "common" and "best" practice. Medicine of 50 years ago was mostly "common", molecular diagnostics research is trying to make it "best" for you , *specifically*

      P.

    4. Filippo

      Re: Most treatments have no need for either genomic or proteomic diagnostics

      Genomic and proteomic knowledge can help with getting more information on an ailment. Exactly what strand of bacteria infest your lungs, and exactly what drugs will kill them fastest with the least side effects? That fall didn't look bad enough to break a leg, maybe you're developing osteoporosis? Do you have a genetic predisposition for alcoholism, and if so, maybe it's worth checking your kids too and tell them to stay away from the bottle?

      On the therapy side, proteome knowledge can lead to better antibiotics and antivirals, which would help quite a lot with pneumonia. It can lead to drugs to treat osteoporosis - maybe even promote bone mending in otherwise healthy individuals. It can lead to psychoactive substances that can help with addiction.

      1. Bilious

        Re: Most treatments have no need for either genomic or proteomic diagnostics

        Yes, the industries pushing instruments and reagents - and their shils - use to argue that way. There's no end to what can be cured some day in future when genomics and proteomics services are available everywhere.

        There's a lot of money to be made by transforming simple procedures into hi-tech complexities. In the end the system will be unaffordable for the users.

        1. phil dude
          Boffin

          Re: Most treatments have no need for either genomic or proteomic diagnostics

          I take issue that "the end the system will be unaffordable for the users". Yes, there are shills out there, but in my tiny part of the world we are using supercomputers to make the decision a "yes/no" not a "choose from these 106 ". Every human in unique, why shouldn't the treatment be?

          But it is important to understand biology/biochemistry is very complex. Simple solutions may not actually exist, but 3 billion years of evolution suggests "good enough" is possible...

          P.

          1. Chemist

            Re: Most treatments have no need for either genomic or proteomic diagnostics

            " we are using supercomputers to make the decision a "yes/no" not a "choose from these 106 ". Every human in unique, why shouldn't the treatment be?"

            I agree and it can be a very simple decision. For example a certain cancer may have 10% of a patient population with one gene variant and the remainder with another. If you can judge with an easy test, which is which, then you can potentially choose the most appropriate drug. I know an example where this is so.

          2. Bilious

            Re: Most treatments have no need for either genomic or proteomic diagnostics

            A large chunk of medical diagnostics are based on basic knowledge and simple clinical observations. A cancer needs to be surgically removed. A bacterial infection of lungs or kidneys or wounds or brain almost certainly will be best treated with one or more antibiotics. Survival may depend on startup of antibiotic treatment long before the detailed biochemical characterisation of the offending bacteria has been finished. A broken bone requires surgery or repositioning and a cast - osteoporosis may be a severe problem during surgery, but some sort of treatment is mandatory. Dementia means that the patient needs special care. Drug or alcohol abuse require detoxification and social rehabilitation.

            Proteomics and genomics are mainly irrelevant to these conditions, except as research tools.

    5. Gordon 11

      Re: Most treatments have no need for either genomic or proteomic diagnostics

      And there is a parallel development going on - enabling patients to do their own diagnostics and monitoring with small and cheap handheld instruments.
      Why is my leg all black and smelly? Gangrene!!!

      [Amputates leg....]

      Oh damn, now I remember. I was walking around a pig farm with no boots on....

      Self-diagnosis is about as reliable as building your own house from scratch. It might work, but when it doesn't you're in big trouble.

      1. Bilious

        Re: Most treatments have no need for either genomic or proteomic diagnostics

        Some diagnostics require special knowledge and special skills and are not for lay people. People with well-defined chronic conditions may run their own diagnostics to detect irregularities. Diabetes patients are self-monitoring their blood glucose and dosing insulin accordingly. A person using warfarin can monitor INR with a handheld instrument - with better anticuagulant control than possible if the doctor does it. A person with recurrent urinary infections may use strips specific for leukocytes in urine when symptoms arise and start treatment earlier. A person with ulcerous colitis may test for blood in the stools much more quickly than the GP and may modify the drug regimen accordingly. Women who believe they may be pregnant, can now buy their pregnancy test in the local supermarket and act accordingly - stop drinking and smoking and eating unpasteurised cheeses, or apply for abortion.

  6. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge

    The thing about protein...

    is that it's very tasty.

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. Grikath Silver badge
    Boffin

    too simplistic....

    proteome, derived from the genome, check..

    It's just that you're ignoring 20-odd processes that modify the primary transcripts into functional proteins, some of which are dependent on non-protein agents,and...... Let's just say things are a wee bit more complicated than that, and that while , like the HGP, definitely worthwhile figuring out the proteome will simply not be the Holy Grail in medicine.

    It's really only fundamental work for the next step in understanding how things fit together.

  9. Chris Gray 1
    Devil

    Consequences

    Hmm. Custom treatments for person A can be harmful to person B. Perhaps there will end up being some that are *very* harmful specifically to person B. So, along comes a bad guy who gets a way to find out a lot of this information. He wants to badly harm person B. He searches for and finds person A. Bad guy obtains specific treatment for person A and arranges for it to be taken by person B. Success!

    Anyone want to write a science fiction story while this is all still in the future?

    (I'm not against the idea of custom treatments, I'm just pointing out a consequence.)

  10. psyq

    Great article, questionable title though...

    While I applaud the author for a very nice explanation for the layman, I think the term "(de)coding" is too much abused today and used where it does not really belong.

    This is very similar case as in, for example, scientists using term neural "coding" - saying that something is (de)coded implies that it has been "coded" in the first place. Of course, decoding compressed audio or video signal results in (almost, sometimes) original audio or video signal, but this is precisely because the said signal has been coded in the first place, we know, because we did the coding.

    Gene information, on the other hand... not really. Genes (or, better, clumps of molecules we call "genes") are inherent part of the living beings, these molecules do not "code" anything, not any more than, say, crankshaft "codes" anything in the internal combustion engine. These things are parts of the process and not just "code".

    While sometimes it can be very useful to compare or abstract living processes using concepts from the information theory or computing, this can be dangerously misleading if taken too far. Biological processes are not computation. While these processes can, to some extent, be compared to or modelled with concepts from the information theory, they are much more than that.

    Please do not get me wrong, I applaud the science for working on understanding the processes responsible for keeping matter alive, and I am quite sure that better understanding of the molecular machinery will lead to better medicine and quality of life for humans and animals, but this "decoding", and, let's not forget, "-omics" fashion (for some reason, it became very fashionable to stick "-omics" name to things recently, probably having something to do with better grants) can give false sense that we understand something more than we actually currently do.

    It awfully reminds me of claims that we'll "crack" the problem of intelligence in late 50s. 60 years later, we are still discovering new dimensions of the problem. I fear this will also apply to the molecular processes underlying "bootstraping" (damn it, I did it too) the living organism.

    /end rant :)

    1. Chemist

      Re: Great article, questionable title though...

      "Genes (or, better, clumps of molecules we call "genes") are inherent part of the living beings, these molecules do not "code" anything, not any more than, say, crankshaft "codes" anything in the internal combustion engine."

      Bit pedantic. Genes code for proteins. You can't use a gene instead of a protein. You can make as many copies of the protein from the gene as time allows. Each 3 nucleotides on the gene (codons) determine the next amino acid to be added to the protein being synthesised. I don't know how you would describe a translation like this from codons to amino acids without calling it a code of some sort. There are even codons to terminate and initiate synthesis. The translation can be tabulated It's more like the punched card in a Jacquard loom. It defines and controls the process but it makes cloth. In a completely different process it also provides a template for copying itself.

  11. tojb
    Pint

    more interesting possibilites here than mentioned in the article

    Identifying proteins that are co-expressed in a given cell type, or stage in the cell cycle, or set of stimuli can help to piece together the network of interactions that ultimately make things go. There are many many proteins (and sundry oddments) in the cell whose place in the scheme of things remains highly unclear.

    1. tojb

      Re: more interesting possibilites here than mentioned in the article

      Beer because Sacc. Cerevisiae is mostly the same as you and I, proteomically speaking.

    2. Chemist

      Re: more interesting possibilites here than mentioned in the article

      "more interesting possibilites here than mentioned in the article "

      Indeed there are even more than you mention. Proteins can dock to each other or a membrane. They can be reversibly modified to increase or decrease their activity. They can be targeted to particular compartments in cells, or exported. Cascades of enzymes can act as powerful amplifiers. They can very selectively allow cations such as K+, Na+ Ca2+ into/out of membranes - and LOTS of other effects.

  12. ilmari

    I'm not a biologist, but the article's mentikn if decoded genome seems weird. In a compsci analogy, i thought the HGP was about reading out the 1s and 0s, into one long string, in the correct order. Except DNA is ternary. I was also under the impression that we know sequences create different yproteins. So perhaps we could say it's it's the equivalent of ibstructions to write values into registers on a computer. What we don't know, is how execution flow is controlled.

    So basically we have the program code in executabke form, and we know opcodes that do things like 'write value to register x', but we don't know what each register does, and execution flow, conditionals, etc, are all part of the black box manipulated through registers?

    So one big reverse engineering problem, made worse by the original author having poor coding style, nk sense of structure, and winner of obfuscated c contest. Oh, and we dont know how the cpu and its peripherals work either.

  13. DocJames
    FAIL

    Gah!

    More assertions about the cost of drugs... big pharma wish us all to believe this; remember most new drugs are "me too" drugs - drugs in the same class as a competitor's new blockbuster. This is useful (people tolerate different drugs from the same class differently; some appear to have more side effects which sometimes end up being useful - occasionally more useful than the intended use) but rarely as useful as the discovery of a "new drug" would imply.

    Next, let's remember what drug companies focus on. They are driven by a need to return value to their shareholders: although we'd all love an utopia where money is unimportant, this is reality. They are therefore interested in drugs that rich (white, Western) healthy people patients require for the rest of their life. Hence the focus on risk factors for cardiovascular disease (cholesterol, BP) and "lifestyle" diseases (female sexual dysfunction anyone?). A key fact to retain is that atorvastatin - a lipid lowering drug that is effective (everyone's risk of cardiovascular death drops by 20-25%! Whether it's worth taking it depends on your prior risk (and personal dislike of taking pills)) was making Pfizer US$1 billion profit annually. That's profit, not turnover.

    Antibiotics that you take for a week? Not so good for profits. There is no big pharma research into antibiotics at present. (Small/medium sized pharma startups, yes)

    So, back on topic: do drugs cost that much to develop? We don't have much evidence - you can read between the lines here:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21256615

    Here's where the old $800million/new drug figure comes from:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12606142 (please note it is entirely from figures from the pharmaceutical industry, not publicly available info)

    The $800 million was debunked at book length: http://books.google.co.nz/books?id=SKr5BDAmiMoC&printsec=frontcover&dq=the+$800+million+pill&hl=en&sa=X&ei=WLx6VJjyHoLRmwW73YLYDg&ved=0CBMQ6AEwAA

    And recently(ish): "one can conclude that R&D costs companies a median of $43.4 million per new drug" from BioSocieties (2011) http://www.pharmamyths.net/files/Biosocieties_2011_Myths_of_High_Drug_Research_Costs.pdf

    TL;DR

    Don't believe drug R+D costs, all the evidence suggests they are much lower.

  14. t.est

    Random soup of life!

    All these books with all these sentences where written from a soup with amino acids that randomly interacted with eachother.

    A book has at least one writer, but some say 25000 books doesn't.

    I have yet to see a random generator generate one single readable sentence.

    Heck even I have problems with spelling, and I'm not a random generator.

  15. J 3
    Headmaster

    Identical twins

    Well, nearly. Even they have differences. Much fewer than two non-identical-twin siblings, of course, but they are not guaranteed to be identical. Examples:

    Bruder, C. E. G. et al. Phenotypically concordant and discordant monozygotic twins display different DNA copy-number-variation profiles. Am. J. Hum. Genet. 82, 763–771 (2008).

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18304490

    Maiti, S., Kumar, K. H. B. G., Castellani, C. A., O’Reilly, R. & Singh, S. M. Ontogenetic De Novo Copy Number Variations (CNVs) as a Source of Genetic Individuality: Studies on Two Families with MZD Twins for Schizophrenia. Plos One 6, e17125 (2011).

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21399695

    Also, each gene can code for quite a few different proteins, due to various processes, starting with alternative splicing and taking off from there. Really cool stuff.

  16. Kepler
    FAIL

    More newfangled, illiterate JARGON . . .

    "total R&D spend for that period"

    What possible purpose is served by writing "spend" when spending obviously was called for?

    It does not mark you as cool or hip to wage war on the distinction between nouns and verbs.* It marks you as an indiscriminate, sheep-like follower of fashion.

    .

    * I hope it is clear that I chose the "FAIL" icon instead of the obviously called-for "Pedantic grammar nazi alert" picture for irony's sake. And the irony is actually double, because this particular failure is about as non-epic as an instance of failure can be!

    (I shared what I hope is an entertaining illustration of the hyperbolic over-use of "epic" — its application to a pizza box in an American TV commercial — about a month ago:

    http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/1/2014/10/22/google_opens_inbox/#c_2336502

    That post bitched about was prompted by an especially egregious example of using a noun as a verb, whereas in the present instance we have a verb used as a noun. And again, a vastly less outrageous example at that.)

  17. Kepler
    Boffin

    A rather misleading omission

    The article makes no mention of the epigenome and epigenetics, either as carriers of information or as determiners of gene expression. It gives the impression that DNA and proteins* — the genome and the proteome — are all there is.

    Since the article is really and mainly just about the proteome, and the discussion of the genome was really just an explanatory lead-in to the discussion of the proteome (which is quite good!), perhaps a digression into the epigenome wasn't really called for. But the impression given by the wording and construction of that set-up is highly misleading. We now know that histones and the epigenome are where a lot of the important action is, and we are only scratching the surface in regard to their role.

    .

    * I.e., the proteins that the nucleic acids code for in general, as distinct from the proteins ("histones") that surround the nucleic acids and — amazingly — turn out to have an important information-coding function as well.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Histone

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epigenome

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epigenetics

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