How many human genes?

Between 38 000 and 115 000, say yesterday's press conferences on the human genome.

By | June 27, 2000

According to Richard Durbin, Head of Bioinformatics at the Sanger Centre for the Human Genome Project, speaking at yesterday's (26 June) press conference in London on the "draft" of the human genome (see yesterday's story), "there are 38 000 confirmed human genes". Using computational methods, he said, it was possible to estimate the existence of another 75 000, making 115 000 in all. "But I think the number will turn out to be closer to the 38 000" he said.

Francis Collins, speaking at the White House press conference a few hours later, agreed: "We can predict 38 000 genes with confidence, but it's a lower bound" he said.

By comparison, the yeast S. cerevisiae has around 6000 genes, and the the nematode C. elegans 19 000.

Note: a series of amusing and educational facts, figures and comparisons about the human (and other) genomes, to entertain your students and friends, can be found here.

More technically, the latest annotations (proposed functions) to the human genome, with mouse and worm to come, can be found here.

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