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Question Video: Describing the Aims of the Human Genome Project Biology • Third Year of Secondary School

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Which of the following was not a basic aim of the Human Genome Project? [A] To sequence and share DNA with people investigating crimes. [B] To determine the order of the base pairs in the human genome. [C] To identify all the genes in the human genome. [D] To develop faster methods for sequencing DNA.

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Video Transcript

Which of the following was not a basic aim of the Human Genome Project? (A) To sequence and share DNA with people investigating crimes. (B) To determine the order of the base pairs in the human genome. (C) To identify all the genes in the human genome. (D) To develop faster methods for sequencing DNA.

This question is asking us about the Human Genome Project, so what is this exactly? Before answering this, let’s remind ourselves what a genome is.

Our cells contain a lot of DNA. In fact, if you were to take the DNA out of a single cell and unravel it, it would be about two meters in length. The total amount of genetic material in our cells is what we call a genome. This two meters of DNA isn’t one long, continuous molecule of DNA; instead, it’s organized into 46 individual structures called chromosomes. Here’s what one of these chromosomes might look like. Each chromosome is a highly packaged molecule of DNA that’s coiled up and wrapped around special proteins called histones.

You’ll recall that DNA is made up of repeating subunits called nucleotides. And each nucleotide contains a nitrogenous base that can be either guanine, cytosine, adenine, or thymine. Nitrogenous bases can form base pairs with each other. Contained within this DNA are genes. Genes contain instructions for producing some type of functional unit, for instance a protein. The order of bases in DNA determines the sequence of DNA. A single chromosome contains a very long sequence of DNA. For example, chromosome 15 contains about 100 million bases from beginning to end.

The Human Genome Project was a worldwide project that started in the 1990s and took about 15 years to complete. It had multiple aims. One of the major aims was to sequence all the bases in our genome, or to determine the order of the base pairs. This is given by answer choice (B). And since the question is asking for the option that is not a basic aim of the Human Genome Project, this answer is incorrect.

From the Human Genome Project, we learned that our genome is over three billion bases long. In order to sequence this massive amount of DNA, we needed to develop faster methods for sequencing DNA. Therefore, we can eliminate answer choice (D).

Another aim of the Human Genome Project was to identify all the genes in the human genome. This is given in answer choice (C). So, this option is incorrect.

Through the Human Genome Project, we learned that we have over 20,000 genes. The work of the Human Genome Project has been very helpful in advancing medical research and in finding new therapeutics for different diseases. However, it is generally not used to assist with investigating crimes. Therefore, the option that does not indicate a basic aim of the Human Genome Project is given by answer choice (A): to sequence and share DNA with people investigating crimes.

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