A comprehensive new map connects every human gene to its function

A comprehensive new map connects every human gene to its function

Futuristic Medicine Health Data Biotechnology

Data from a new gene function map is available for other scientists to use. “It’s a great resource in the same way that the human genome is a great resource, in that you can go in and do discovery-based research,” says Professor Jonathan Weissman.

The scientists used their single-cell sequencing tool Perturb-seq on every gene expressed in the human genome, linking each to its job in the cell.

Genetic research has advanced rapidly over the past few decades. For example, just a few months ago, scientists announced the first complete, gap-free sequencing of the human genome. Today, researchers have made further progress by creating the first complete functional map of genes expressed in human cells.

The Human Genome Project was an ambitious initiative to sequence every piece of human[{” attribute=””>DNA. The project drew together collaborators from research institutions around the world, including

CRISPR, which stands for clustered regularly-interspaced short palindromic repeats, a genome editing tool invented in 2009 made it easier than ever to edit DNA. It is easier, faster, less expensive, and more accurate than previous genetic editing methods.

The screen allowed the researchers to delve into diverse biological questions. They used it to explore the cellular effects of genes with unknown functions, to investigate the response of mitochondria to stress, and to screen for genes that cause chromosomes to be lost or gained, a phenotype that has proved difficult to study in the past. “I think this dataset is going to enable all sorts of analyses that we haven’t even thought up yet by people who come from other parts of biology, and suddenly they just have this available to draw on,” says former Weissman Lab postdoc Tom Norman, a co-senior author of the paper.

Pioneering Perturb-seq

The project takes advantage of the Perturb-seq approach that makes it possible to follow the impact of turning on or off genes with unprecedented depth. This method was first published in 2016 by a group of researchers including Weissman and fellow MIT professor Aviv Regev, but could only be used on small sets of genes and at great expense.

The massive Perturb-seq map was made possible by foundational work from Joseph Replogle, an MD-PhD student in Weissman’s lab and co-first author of the present paper. Replogle, in collaboration with Norman, who now leads a lab at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; Britt Adamson, an assistant professor in the Department of Molecular Biology at

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