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So Just How Many Are There?

The debate over the number of genes in the human genome rages on, Nature News reports.

Before the human genome was sequenced, Nature News writes that geneticists placed bets on how many genes it might contain, with their guesses ranging from fewer than 26,000 genes to more than 310,000 genes. More recently, the human gene complement has been estimated to be about 20,000 genes. But, Nature News reports that a new study says that estimate might be missing a few.

Johns Hopkins University's Steven Salzberg and his colleagues used RNA sequencing data from more than 30 tissues collected by the GTEx project to develop a new estimate of the number of human genes. As they report in a preprint posted to bioRxiv, the researchers uncovered 21,306 protein-coding genes, which they've added to a new database called Comprehensive Human Expressed SequenceS (CHESS). This gene estimate is more than the 20,054 genes in RefSeq, they add.

However, researchers like European Bioinformatics Institute's Adam Frankish and National Center for Biotechnology Information's Kim Pruitt tell Nature News that some of the genes Salzberg and his team identified might not truly be protein coding. But the University of Geneva's Emmanouil Dermitzakis adds that at least a portion are likely to be true genes.