Looking For Today's DNA Knowledge

  • #1
Hornbein
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I got my biology degree in 1979 and would like to get current again on DNA. What would you suggest? I'm in Japan so access to English books is quite limited.
 
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  • #2
I would imagine a textbook on Epigenetics would be in order.

Handbook of Epigenetics​

The New Molecular and Medical Genetics
https://shop.elsevier.com/books/handbook-of-epigenetics/o-tollefsbol/978-0-12-805388-1

An introductory book,
Introduction to Genetics: A Molecular Approach By T A BrownCopyright 2012
https://www.routledge.com/Introduction-to-Genetics-A-Molecular-Approach/Brown/p/book/9780815365099

Could one contact a nearby university with a biology program and ask a professor what book he or she would recommend?

Otherwise, one of the biology/medical experts from PF may advise.
 
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  • #3
What aspects of DNA are you interested in?
Organismal: how DNA works in genetics of individuals etc.?
Environmental/ecological? Lots of new stuff.
Evolutionary: Lots of stuff.
Techniques for manipulating genetics? PCR, Crisper, ...
Using it for medicine? Los of stuff.

You could probably search up review articles on any oft these topics.
Wikipedia might be a good place to look for leads.

What are the limits to your current knowledge?
There are probably lots of textbooks. Many are cell biology oriented. Does that fall into your scope?
 
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  • #4
The particular thing that caught my attention was that in my day it wasn't known what the purpose was of 95% or so of the DNA. I assume that there has been progress with this. A general course wouldn't hurt. Maybe I don't know what I don't know
 
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  • #5
Hornbein said:
The particular thing that caught my attention was that in my day it wasn't known what the purpose was of 95% or so of the DNA. I assume that there has been progress with this. A general course wouldn't hurt. Maybe I don't know what I don't know
You must have studied Albert's? "The Cell." There is also Lewin's "Genes." We are up to Xii now!

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/145616065592

Nessa Carey did a general readers a few years ago on epigenetics. Good for a catch up. "Epigenetics revolution."

There are papers on Chromosome 2, Chimp (P troglodytes) DNA and also ERVs in terms of Evolution of our species from the 90's and 2000s that are important.
 
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  • #6
The lack of described purpose for large amounts of DNA in genomes is to some extent due to a lack of understanding of how cells are using it.
A common approach (especially in the past) is to look at what has been identified as coding for proteins and consider everything else to lack a function, rather than lacking a human identified function. This overlooks a lot of now known functions like:
  • producing RNA transcripts that do important things in cells (these do not encode proteins)
  • overlooking non-coding parts of gene removed before translation into proteins (introns)
  • overlooking control regions of genes that determine when they are expressed (turned on)
  • overlooking spacer regions between genes and control regions that influence how things are controlled
  • important parts of chromosomes like telomeres, centromeres, and replication start points were probably not counted.
References for all of these could probably be found in wikipedia or by a google search.

There are probably others. As these properties were discovered gradually over the last 40 or 50 years, no one went back to update blanket statements which just continued to be cited (although newer more accurate estimates have probably been made).
There may be (probably are) reviews on this, but I don't follow this subject closely.
Our idea of the functions of DNA have become more diverse.
 
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  • #7
Hornbein said:
The particular thing that caught my attention was that in my day it wasn't known what the purpose was of 95% or so of the DNA. I assume that there has been progress with this.
https://www.genome.gov/about-genomics/fact-sheets/Genetic-Mapping-Fact-Sheet
Among the main goals of the Human Genome Project (HGP) was to develop new, better and cheaper tools to identify new genes and to understand their function.

Genome-wide mapping of genomic DNA damage: methods and implications
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8558167/

Next-generation mapping: a novel approach for detection of pathogenic structural variants with a potential utility in clinical diagnosis
https://genomemedicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13073-017-0479-0


This looks interesting.
https://oertx.highered.texas.gov/courseware/lesson/1697/overview


And example of known syndromes and diseases related to DNA (in this case, the X-chromosome).
https://bio.libretexts.org/Bookshel...h_Edition/18:_Genomics/18.01:_Mapping_Genomes

I imagine that folks have mapped DNA/genes of thousands or millions and determined what genes are commonly found with what diseases/syndromes. Some mappings may be more thorough than others.

My wife has done specific genetic testing related to her health issues, and separately, we both have done DNA tests for genealogical purposes. My sister has done genetic testing for her medical issues. So, it appears there is a basis for doing genetic testing related to specific health issues, e.g., breast cancer, lung cancer, genetic traits, . . . .
 
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  • #8
This is a bit dated now but describes how thinking has changed over time.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmolb.2018.00020/full

This also needs an update but describes some of the problems in understanding modern genetics, it shows how a lot of work considered current and influential, simply isn't. Some people have suggested that the traditional view of a gene and its function have acted in a way to inhibit understanding.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5378099/

This is an Interesting blog

https://dnascience.plos.org/

This is mostly clinical stuff reflecting my own interests. Check out the browse topics area.Then go to the home page and other main menu areas, look at all the resources available.

https://www.genomicseducation.hee.nhs.uk/blog/tag/epigenomics/

I did have a look for an up to date review of current thinking but couldn't find one, I suspect you will need to identify the specific areas that interests you.
I hope this helps.
 
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  • #9
Well thanks you guys! It will take a while to work through all this.

Now correct me if I'm wrong. Epigenetics seems conceptually simple. The DNA is methylated, this regulates gene expression, and the result is passed through to the offspring. I'm not concerned about the experiments that showed this. What more would a textbook give me?

By the way back in 1977 when I was studying this stuff they taught us that The Central Dogma was a theory stating that genetic information flows only in one direction, from DNA, to RNA, to protein, or RNA directly to protein. I didn't see why anyone should believe that and thought the "dogma" name was ironic. That they didn't really believe it, it was just a working hypothesis they took on to focus the communities efforts. But later I read an interview with Francis Crick. He said he really did believe this and that he didn't intend the ironic tone. It was because at the time he didn't know what the word "dogma" implied.

James Watson had a reputation as a terrible lecturer. I was told the usual practice was to take in his first lecture to check off a famous person from your bucket list, then leave it at that.
 
  • #10
there's more to epigenetics than just methylation.
Also there are some rather complex rules about how long (in generations) various epigenetic marks can hang around and when it can go away.

The central dogma is no longer considered the universal description of things because exceptions are now known, so yes its considered kind of an overstatement now.
 
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