DNA vs. genome what’s the diff?
Why does Artist, the hero in “We Want Our Genome Story,” use the word “genome” rather than “DNA”? She makes a point of it. So DNA vs. genome, what’s the diff?
There’s a big difference. DNA is a molecule.
Your whole genome is all of your DNA.
DNA is a marvelous data storage device. You’ll be surprised at how much information it stores and where it’s stashed. The molecules hide in three places—can you guess where?
Long strands of DNA are wound tightly into 46 chromosomes in the nucleus. You get 23 from your dad’s genome and 23 from your mother’s. It’s a huge set of data totaling over six billion base pairs.
Nuclear DNA in your cells is the first of your three core genomes. (Not every cell contains DNA. Red blood cells and cells in the skin, hair, and nails do not have a nucleus, so no DNA.)
There’s more DNA! Shorter pieces are in mitochondria, an organelle in the cell’s cytoplasm. You get mitochondria from your mother, and there are thousands of them in (most) of your cells. Mitochondrial DNA is the second core genome.
The third core genome is your microbiome—the DNA in your gut, on your skin, and hair. You get microbial DNA from the environment, which you start collecting on the day you’re born. When Artist talks about your genome, this is what she means:
nuclear DNA + mitochondrial DNA + microbial DNA = your whole genome
Now that you’re hip to the diff, you can imagine there is value in having all your DNA data instead of just some.
Did you know? Consumer companies, such as 23andMe, read just a fraction of your DNA. To get your full Genome Story, ask for a whole-genome sequence (WGS). The technology sequences all the ATCGs on your chromosomes and the DNA in mitochondria.
Sequencing all the ATCGs includes reading the protein-coding and non-coding genes. And all of the data in the non-coding regions (dark zones). Long-read sequencing such as nanopore technology is an example of the process that provides all of your genomic data.
Why whole-genome sequencing? WGS can identify genetic variants for rare conditions that other methods fail to find. When considering treatment options, WGS can find sensitivity or resistance to specific drugs, helping physicians select the best meds.
As whole-genome sequencing moves into everyday practice, medicine will be custom-made just-for-you. Easy access to your genomic data is key to achieving the potential of the Genomic Revolution.
The National Human Genome Research Institute predicts that “a person’s complete genome sequence and informative annotations can be securely and readily accessible on their smartphone.” It’s one of their Bold Predictions for 2030 guiding scientific research today.
Now that you’re hip to the “diff,” you may get a kick out of this 90-second video that tells the story short and sweet.