Approximately half of the functional regulatory sequences in the human genome appear to lack conserved sequences, according to an analysis of functional elements in 1% of the genome. The finding comes from the four-year pilot ENCODE Encyclopedia of DNA Elements project, whose results are published in this week's Nature.This lack of evolutionary constraint is "clearly one of the most interesting findings in the paper," said Eric Schadt of Rosetta Inpharmatics in Seattle, Wash., who was not involved in the work. It's possible that variations in regulatory sequences between people could help explain individual differences in disease susceptibility, giving these findings "huge implications," Schadt told The Scientist.The ENCODE project also analyzed many other aspects of functional non-coding regions of the human genome. "Finally, we're going to be able to have some type of a map that will allow us to interpret the significance of any kind of human genetic...

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