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Human Genome Scavenger Hunt


The Human Genome Project officially began in 1990 and was slated to be a 15 year project, with the goal of sequencing the entire human genome, identifying all of the genes within the genome, improving the data storage and analysis tools used to view the collected data, as well as addressing the ethical, legal and social issues that may arise from the undertaking. Due to rapid advancement or technology the project concluded two years ahead of schedule. Although the project is officially finished the analysis of the data has continued and will most likely continue for many more years (source).

In addition to the sequencing of the human genome, to date more than 180 organisms have also been sequenced since 1995. By sequencing other organisms it can help scientists make since of the human genome, as well as exploring the evolutionary relationships between organisms. If interested the Genome News Network (an independent online publication of the J. Craig Venter Institute) has a list of all the organisms whose genomes have been sequenced as well as articles related to the sequencing and use of the sequences.

Today there exists several public databases that allow anyone to access and browse the completed genomic sequences of humans and other organisms. In this investigation we will focus on the UCSC Genome browser for its ease of use. 


Before we can go on a scavenger hunt we must learn how to use the genome browser. Your teacher may give a brief tutorial of how to use the browser or you can read about it yourself here: Guide to the UCSC Genome Browser

Once you are familiar with how to use the genome browser, it is time to start hunting for genes. Sign up for a gene of interest here: Sign-Up Spreadsheet. When looking for at gene, you want to search for the following information:
  • The full name of the gene
  • Where it is located, Chromosome and position
  • The size of the gene.
  • The size of the polypeptide made from the gene.
  • The structure and function of the protein, within the cell and the organism as a whole.
  • Diseases or disorders associated with the gene
  • Any other interesting information can be included.
Once you are satisfied you have found out everything you need to about your gene, fill out the following form: Human genome scavenger hunt results

We have now just built our own genome database. We can use the information collected to study and learn about the human genome. Later in the year we can use the information collected as a starting point to discuss gene which are ubiquitous in all forms of life and how we can use some of these same genes to investigate the evolutionary relationship or phylogeny of different organisms.