What’s the genome?

The genome refers to all of the information contained in an individual’s DNA. The human genome is approximately 3,200,000,000 bases long, and it encodes the blueprints for every cell in the body. The genome is highly regulated and very complex. Every cell in an individual has the same genome, so for proper function each cell must precisely control when and where specific genes are turned on or off. Different patterns in gene expression keep cells in your heart pumping and cells in your muscles taking in oxygen.

Biologists and computational scientists have identified ways of interpreting the genome to predict these functions. It has also been found that some patterns in the genome are linked to atypical biological function, which can sometimes impact a person’s health. These atypical genomic patterns are called variants.