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2012 National DNA Day Online Chatroom Transcript

This is just one question from an archive of the National DNA Day Moderated Chat held in April 2012. The NHGRI Director and many genomics experts from across NHGRI took questions from students, teachers and the general public on topics ranging from basic genomic research, to the genetic basis of disease, to ethical questions about genetic privacy.

Is the exact number of genes in the human genome known?
     David Bodine, Ph.D.: I am the Chief & Senior Investigator of NHGRI's Genetics and Molecular Biology Branch and Head of the Hematopoiesis Section. I investigate the genetics of pluripotent hematopoietic stem cells (PHSCs) to improve the effectiveness of bone marrow transplantation and to find better ways to use these unique cells for gene replacement therapy. I also study diseases that interfere with the ability of the stem cells to differentiate into red blood cells. Pretty much. About 10 years ago we thought there would be about 100,000 because there were so many different proteins known. Now after we have analyzed the human genome sequence, we know that there are about 21,000 genes. Many of these 21,00 genes can make multiple protein each. Now we are discovering "non-coding RNA genes. There are thousands of these and it looks like these non coding RNAs help regulate the protein coding genes. The real answer will be more than 21,000 depending on how you define a gene, in other words do you count the non-coding regulatory "genes"
McDowell Intermediate High School in PA (10th grade teacher)

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(short, single keywords work best at first)