DNA and RNA encode information in the sequences of their nucleotide building blocks just as languages encode information in sequences of letters, words, and sentences. The advent of DNA sequencing technology in 1970 enabled us to decipher the sequence of nucleotides in DNA. Today, DNA sequences can be obtained from scientific journals, databases, and web sites—frequently free of charge.
Bioinformatics uses information technology, such as computers and computer programs, to study the information in DNA and proteins. In this activity, you will use bioinformatics tools to understand how DNA sequence similarities are being used to understand shared ancestry between individuals, populations and species. Starting from a popular wet lab on PV92, a polymorphic locus in the human genome, you will identify the forces that have shaped this locus. You will then discover how we can trace recent activity of transposons (“jumping genes”) in the human genome.
In this in silico (on the computer) laboratory you will:
• Use “electronic PCR” to identify where in the human genome PV92 is located
• Use bioinformatics tools to better understand the PV92 locus
• Use sequence alignments to study and date sequence relationships