HGP Enters Final Phase:
Even as the Human Genome Project (HGP) enters its final phase, which officially began May 9, perhaps the most fundamental bit of genomic trivia persists: Exactly how many human genes are there? At the 13th annual Cold Spring Harbor Meeting on Genome Sequencing and Biology held May 10, scientists marveled at the astounding acceleration of sequencing efforts in the last year. Participants, including all 16 leaders of the HGP sequencing centers, enjoyed the most recent sequencing milestone: the completed DNA sequence of chromosome 21, the smallest human chromosome (M. Hattori et al., "The DNA sequence of human chromosome 21," Nature, 405:311-9, May 18, 2000). They also, according to Robert Waterston, director of the genome-sequencing center at Washington University in St. Louis, lightheartedly took bets on exactly how many genes actually make up the human genome. Estimates have been as high as 150,000, but based...

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