Disabled genes, molecular relics scattered across the human landscape, have a story of their own to tell. And it is still unfolding

The Real Life of Pseudogenes

by Mark Gerstein and Deyou Zheng, (2006) Scientific American, (in press) .

Our genetic closet holds skeletons. The bones of long-dead genes--known as pseudogenes--litter our chromosomes. But like other fossils, they illuminate the evolutionary history of today's more familiar forms, and emerging evidence indicates that a few of these DNA dinosaurs may not be quite so dead after all. Signs of activity among pseudogenes are another reminder that although the project to sequence the human genome (the complete set of genetic information in the nuclei of our cells) was officially finished, scientists are still just beginning to unravel its complexities.

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