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Grantham's Genome Hypothesis (1980)

Posted by forsdyke on 02 Jun 2013 at 16:45 GMT


The authors write of a 'new world view' that takes into account the entire 'genome as a physical molecule.' This is essentially the view set out by a founder of modern bioinformatics analysis, Richard Grantham, in the 1980s with his 'genome hypothesis' ("Trends in Biochemical Sciences" 5, 327-331). The quest for function was taken up by biophysicists/biochemists such as Akiyoshi Wada and Georgio Bernardi, who identified pressures that operate genome-wide, such as adaptations to favor recombination. Such adaptative mutations should affect not only parts of DNA encoding the proteins that modulate recombination (localized mutations), but also their substrate, DNA itself (genome-wide mutations). This non-neutral evolution perspective ("Trends in Parasitology," 18, 411-418), was supported by the ENCODE Consortium's studies, but perhaps the 'notably animated discussion' then arose because of excessive attention to conservation. Lack of conservation should be evolutionarily advantageous when it comes to host genome-encoded RNA defence against foreign nucleic acids. Such host variation could make it difficult for a predatory virus to anticipate the intracellular environment of its next host ("Trends Immunology" 23, 575-579).

No competing interests declared.