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Scientists discover secret code hidden within human DNA

Published time: December 14, 2013 01:35
Edited time: December 16, 2013 07:39
This undated handout illustration shows the DNA double helix (AFP Photo)

This undated handout illustration shows the DNA double helix (AFP Photo)

Scientists have discovered a secret second code hiding within DNA which instructs cells on how genes are controlled. The amazing discovery is expected to open new doors to the diagnosis and treatment of diseases, according to a new study.

Ever since the genetic code was deciphered over 40 years ago, scientists have believed that it only described how proteins are made. However, the revelation made by the research team led by John Stamatoyannopoulos of the University of Washington indicates that genomes use the genetic code to write two separate languages.

“For over 40 years we have assumed that DNA changes affecting the genetic code solely impact how proteins are made,” said Stamatoyannopoulos, according to the press release. “Now we know that this basic assumption about reading the human genome missed half of the picture.”

Scientists discovered that the second language instructs the cells on how genes are controlled, according to findings published in Science magazine on Friday. The study is part of the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements Project, also known as ENCODE.

DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) is a nucleic acid that is the main constituent of the chromosomes of all organisms, except some viruses. DNA is self-replicating, plays a central role in protein synthesis, and is responsible for the transmission of hereditary characteristics from parents to offspring.

The second language remained hidden for so long because one language is written on top of the other, scientists said.

Scientists already knew that the genetic code uses a 64-letter alphabet called codons. The research team discovered that some of the codons can have two meanings – one related to proteins, the other to gene control. Those codons were given the name ‘duons.’

And it’s those duons that are expected to change the way physicians interpret human genomes, and give clues for the treatments of diseases.

The fact that the genetic code can simultaneously write two kinds of information means that many DNA changes that appear to alter protein sequences may actually cause disease by disrupting gene control programs or even both mechanisms simultaneously,” said Stamatoyannopoulos.

Speaking about the discovery, Stamatoyannopoulos said that the “new findings highlight that DNA is an incredibly powerful information storage device, which nature has fully exploited in unexpected ways.”

Comments (55)

 

Ancient Knowledge 22.04.2014 16:10

Wizard2579 30.03.2014 10:37

Hypothesis:

It's funny. When we left Mars, genetically untouched survivor's DNA was imprinted with the message: Don't poke into the secrets of nature too far, you can't handle the truth.

  


Ma rtians were supposedly cruel life forms and some, supposedly migrated here, and their bloodlines are the rulers... makes sense. No caring, just selfserving, destructive beings. If you believe in such things. I tend to believe parts of ancient stories, since today, science is also cold/callous and serves only one purpose. Profit/control, no love or compassion.

 

Ancient Knowledge 22.04.2014 16:06

When we activate our 'junk' (lol) DNA and become active and alive again, the 'demons' trying to deny us this via chems will be taken care of. Ray Kurzweil and his pathetic bunch taking advantage of the weak minded individuals that think technology, created and controlled by others will make them great... it will... they will be awesome biorobots with absolutely no thoughts of their own and controlled via programs sent directly to your mind.

 

Andrey Chipenko 31.03.2014 21:36

Cant wait to see what they do with this information in the future.

View all comments (55)
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