Genomics Glossary for What Makes a Nerve Cell Different

1000 Genomes Project

the international research effort to create the largest public catalogue of human variation and genotype data by sequencing the genomes of a large number of people

Acrida conica

scientific name for grasshopper

Adenosine triphosphate (ATP)

a chemical that supplies energy for many biochemical cellular processes


a respiratory disease which usually results from an allergic reaction or other forms of hypersensitivity


a general term for a group of complex disorders of brain development

base pairs (bp)

Paired nucleotides that make up DNA and RNA. Following specific hydrogen-bonding patterns, DNA has adenine(A)-thymine(T) and guanine(G)-cytosine(C) base pairings. Similarly, RNA has adenine-uracil(U) and guanine-cytosine base pairings


the application of life sciences, physical sciences, mathematics and engineering principles and techniques to problems in medicine and biology


scientists with multidisciplinary training in computer science and biology who are equipped to answer important biological questions based on analyzing and interpreting huge biological-based datasets


a field in biology where scientists collect, analyze, and interpret biological data to further human understanding of biological systems


a gene that can cause breast cancer if it is mutated


the weight of a genome


a disease caused by an abnormal cells dividing uncontrollably in a part of the body

Cystic Fibrosis

a disease which causes severe lung and digestive system damage and leads to respiratory failure

Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane conductance Regulator (CTFR)

A protein that functions as channel for movement of chloride ions in and out of cells. In other words, this protein regulates a balance between salt and water on epithelial surfaces, such as in the lung or pancreas.


an organized collection of information that can be accessed, managed, and updated

deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)

the molecule that encodes the information for all the characteristics or traits about an organism

embryonic stem cell (ESC)

a type of stem cell that is pluripotent, meaning they are able to specialize into any cell type that makes up the human body. ESCs are derived from the undifferentiated inner mass cells of a human embryo and have stemmed complicated ethical questions in science.


a unit of DNA that controls specific traits

gene expression

the process by which instructions in our DNA are converted into functional products, such as proteins (read more about the basics of gene expression)

gene ontology (GO)

a vocabulary to describe gene products in terms of their associated biological processes, cellular components and molecular functions in a species-independent manner.


all the DNA in an organism


the study of a large number of genes and their interactions and/or of entire genomes (all of the DNA in an organism) to learn what kind of information is coded in these DNA sequences and how the DNA instructions are carried out


a gene that is similar in structure and evolutionary origin to a gene in another species

Huntington's Disease

a disease which causes a breakdown of nerve cells in the brain that affects an individual’s ability to think, speak and move.


an educated guess that can be tested

locus (plural loci)

the specific location and position on a chromosome of a gene's DNA sequence


a mosquito-carried disease that targets blood cells

megabase (Mb)

1 million base pairs

multiple sclerosis (MS)

a long-lasting and potentially disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord


a cell that carries messages between the brain and other parts of the body. It is also called a "nerve cell" and is the basic unit of the nervous system.


the basic structural units of nucleic acids such as DNA and RNA. They are made up of a nucleoside coupled to a phosphate group


the loss of the ability to move in part or most of the body


observable traits

picogram (pg)

10-12 grams


a decription of a genetic trait that only expresses its phenotype when a dominant allele is lacking or when the two alleles present are both recessive


the act of replacing something that was lost

ribonucleic acid (RNA)

a nucleic acid molecule that is implicated in various biological roles, including coding, decoding, regulation, and expression of genes.

RNA sequencing (RNA-seq)

a technique that reveals the presence and quantity of RNA in a biological sample at a given moment in time.

sequence motif

a particular string of nucleotides whose pattern is repeated at least once in a long string that is related to the function of a gene

Sickle Cell Disease

a genetic disorder that causes red blood cells to take on a deformed sickle shape instead of their normal disk shape, leading to poor circulation, pain, and anemia (low blood cell count).

somatic mutation

alterations in your DNA that happen after you are conceived (they are not passed on to you from your mother or father's DNA).

stem cells

unspecialized cells that are capable of dividing and renewing themselves for long periods (self-renewal) as well as give rise to specialized cells. Different stem cell types have different limitations as to what type of specialized cells they can differentiate into.


a sequence consisting of three nucleotides

type I diabetes

an autoimmune disease typically diagnosed in children and young adults where the body does not produce enough insulin, a hormone needed to allow sugar to enter cells to produce energy