Meet the Decoders Dr. Eric Lander Krulwich: Let me see, let me just start with the gene itself.
First of all, we're all familiar with this thing. This shape is very familiar. Lander: Double helix, yes. Krulwich: Double helix. First of all, this is my version of a DNA molecule, but I'm just curious how small is it in real life?
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Like the distance--is this by the way, what it looks like? Lander: Well, give or take, a cartoon version. That's right. Krulwich: This is made of what, these sort of walls? Lander: This chain here that runs along the outside is made of sugar molecules and negatively charged phosphate molecules. Krulwich: So if you lick it, it would be a little bit sweet this part?
Lander: Well, no. It wouldn't because they're all a patch. You see, it only tastes sweet if it comes off and activates your taste receptors. So these long chains are not very good.
Krulwich: Okay. Lander: I mean wood is also made out of these sugars and things, and it doesn't taste very sweet, because it's all sown up. Lander: But if you broke it all up, there is a little sugar in there.
Krulwich: The main thing about this is the ladder, the steps hree this ladder. Lander: So the news is along these steps, right? The outside is the same all along; the inside sticking out of these sugars comes one of four different things, one of four bases that we call A, T, C, or G. They correspond to different funny molecular shapes with little rings and things.
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Lander: Okay. So let's say that this red guy here is an A and that's a T. Krulwich: Why do you call them A and T? Lander: Oh, it's adenine and thymine. Krulwich: So those are their initials? Lander: But it's a fast-moving field. You can't say adenine all the time and thymine and cytosine all the time and guanine all the time, so you say, A, T, C, and G. Krulwich: So there are in almost every cell in your body, if you look deep Lefs, you will find this chain Idaho falls oral sex Lander: Oh, yes.
Stuck to the nucleus of your cell there is I guess 23 Ltes of these chains called chromosomes.
Krulwich: Right. Lander: Each chromosome is a very long chain of about anywhere million rungs of the ladder. Krulwich: In every cell? Lander: Every cell. Krulwich: Over and over. How many of these steps do we have in a typical cell in me? Lander: Well, you've got six billion, of which three billion came from your mom and three came from your dad. Those two copies are pretty similar, so every cell has a genome of three billion, and it actually has about--it has two copies of it; one from mom and one from dad.
Krulwich: Let's just think for a moment. Let's just look at the whole landscape. The human being has 3. So, where are they? Is there Adult dating in Seymour pattern? Lander: The genome is very lumpy. Krulwich: Very? Lander: Very lumpy, very uneven. You might think, if we have 30, genes, they're kind of distributed uniformly across the chromosomes. Not so.
They're distributed like people are distributed in America: they're all bunched up in some places, and then you have vast plains that don't have a lot of people in them. It's like that with the genes. There are really gene dense regions, that might have 15 times the density of genes, sort of New York City over here. And there are other regions that might go for two million letters and there's not a gene Letx be found in there.
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Krulwich: So there's this whole conversation going on that we didn't know about, like, ten years ago. Lander: The genome is, it's a fossil record; the genome is a landscape; the genome is a whole geography of distributions. The thing about the human genome that most surprised me was how many amazing stories there were in it.
That you might think the genome's just a boring string of letters, like reading the ones and zeros on your hard disk. The genome is a storybook that's been edited didmt a couple of billion years, and you could take it to bed, like A Thousand and One Arabian Nights, and read a different story, in the genome, every night. Krulwich: If I could read each of the individual letters, I meeg find the picture of what?
Lander: Well, of your children. This is what you pass to your children. You know, people have known for 2, years that your kids look a lot Married ladys from Port Aransas fuck you. Well, it's because you must pass them something, some instructions that give them the eyes they have and the hair color they have and the nose shape they do. And the only way you pass it to them is in these sentences.
That's it! It is hereditary. Krulwich: So if I decode the two parts of each of these ladders, I would know many things about my children, things to be. Lander: Well, in principle you would, the same way that if you read all the ones and zeroes on your hard disk, you would in principle know the Mozart symphony or the Shakespeare play that you put on your hard disk. Now, whether you could actually take the ones and zeroes and sing the Mozart symphony from that, is another question.
So getting the letters out is one thing. Extracting their meaning is another. The Human Genome Project is about sitting there and getting the letters out. The next century is about extracting all of the meaning out of the text, but it's a pretty good text.
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It's worth the effort. Krulwich: Getting the letters out has been described as finding the blueprint of a human being, finding a manual for a human being, finding the code of a human being. What's your metaphor? Lander: Oh, golly, gee, I mean -- I think this is very much like in chemistry, the way the chemists describe all of matter in terms of elements that they put into a periodic table.
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Lander: I think this is kind of biology's periodic table. Everything that gets made in your body, whether it's, you know, carotene in your hair or collagen in your skin or hemoglobin in your blood, is specified by an instruction here. This is basically a parts cidnt. Blueprints and all these fancy -- it's just a parts list. It's a parts list with a lot of parts.
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If you take an airplane, a BoeingI think dodnt has likeparts. If I gave you a parts list for the Boeingin one sense you'd know a lot. You'd knowcomponents that have got to be there, screws and wires and the rudders and things like heree. On the other hand, I bet you wouldn't know how to put it together. And I bet you wouldn't know why it flies. Well, we're in the Cromona Kentucky mature xxx boat.
We now have a parts list.
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That's what the Human Genome Project is about is getting a parts list. If you want to understand the plane, you have to have the parts list, but that's not enough to understand why it flies.
Of course, you'd be crazy not to start with the parts list. So we figured that for the next century of medical work, we'd better get the parts list and so everybody rolled up their sleeves and decided we could work together and get a parts list. Krulwich: Before we go to how we do that, let me just give you what I guess is one advantage. If I discover that some human being is sick, and I suspect that the sickness comes from some genetic trait, I guess I could ask and ask and ask this molecule, "What's wrong with my kid?
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