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Our four dimensional genome

16 Dec, 201601:01

Many people think DNA is like a recipe or an ordered set of instructions. This is far too simplistic–because genomes operate in multiple dimensions. The first dimension is the sequence of DNA letters. Unlike a book, these DNA letters can be 'read' in different ways. For example, each part of a 'gene' can be used in constructing multiple different proteins, a process controlled by other parts of the genome—the second dimension. Then we must consider the arrangement of the DNA in the nucleus, where genes are not randomly distributed, but cluster together according to need—the third dimension. Even more impressively, the chromosomes in the nucleus vary in shape according to the cell’s changing needs over time—the fourth dimension. How could genomes operating in multiple dimensions have evolved? A rare beneficial mutation that might enhance things in one dimension would likely cause problems at other levels. Genomes look more and more like the handiwork of a supremely intelligent programmer.

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