In 1969, Roy J. Britten and Eric H. Davidson published Gene Regulation for Higher Cells: A Theory, in Science. A Theory proposes a minimal model of gene regulation, in which various types of genes interact to control the differentiation of cells through differential gene expression. Britten worked at the Carnegie Institute of Washington in Washington, D.C., while Davidson worked at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California. Their paper was an early theoretical and mechanistic description of gene regulation in higher organisms.

Roy John Britten studied DNA sequences in the US in the second half of the twentieth century, and he helped discover repetitive elements in DNA sequences. Additionally, Britten helped propose models and concepts of gene regulatory networks. Britten studied the organization of repetitive elements and, analyzing data from the Human Genome Project, he found that the repetitive elements in DNA segments do not code for proteins, enzymes, or cellular parts. Britten hypothesized that repetitive elements helped cause cells to differentiate into more specific cell kinds among different organisms.

In May 1953, scientists James Watson and Francis Crick wrote the article “Genetical Implications of the Structure of Deoxyribonucleic Acid,” hereafter “Genetical Implications,” which was published in the journal Nature. In “Genetical Implications,” Watson and Crick suggest a possible explanation for deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, replication based on a structure of DNA they proposed prior to writing “Genetical Implications.” Watson and Crick proposed their theory about DNA replication at a time when scientists had recently reached the consensus that DNA contained genes, which scientists understood to carry information that determines an organism’s identity. Watson and Crick’s replication mechanism as presented in “Genetical Implications” contributed to the two scientists sharing a portion of the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. With their suggested DNA replication mechanism in “Genetical Implications,” Watson and Crick explained how genes are copied and passed along to new cells and organisms, thereby explaining how the information contained within genes is preserved through generations.

George McDonald Church studied DNA from living and from extinct species in the US during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Church helped to develop and refine techniques with which to describe the complete sequence of all the DNA nucleotides in an organism's genome, techniques such as multiplex sequencing, polony sequencing, and nanopore sequencing. Church also contributed to the Human Genome Project, and in 2005 he helped start a company, the Personal Genome Project. Church proposed to use DNA from extinct species to clone and breed new organisms from those species.

Subscribe to Genomes