The National Human Genome Research Institute awarded the first grant under its new ENCODE program. The acronym comes from ENCyclopdia Of DNA Elements (ENCODE). The aim of the program is to identify and locate all of the genome's protein-coding genes, non-protein coding genes, and other sequence-based functional elements. Researchers have long known that DNA sequences that code for proteins are essential. More recently, it has become clear that some of the so-called "junk DNA" that doesn't code for protein also has important roles to play in the regulation of gene expression. When completed, the collection of elements identified by the ENCODE program will help scientists better understand how the genome influences our health.
Last Reviewed: August 15, 2013