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Night science


Genome sequencing
François Jacob Scientist
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The idea of making sequences wasn't something I particularly enjoyed. I thought it needed to be done, that we would do it, but that we had time, that there was no rush. And that it wasn't worth rushing to make sequences. It was obvious we would be making sequences and that we would end up making the human sequence. Since making the human sequence we haven't done much. We will be making some, but it takes time. And it was the idea I had at the beginning. Meaning that it needed to be done but that I'd rather the others did it.

[Q] And post-genomics, which is largely talked about these days, how do you... meaning the new technologies that would allow the observation of the organism in a global manner, protein networks...

I consider that to be for future generations, but not mine.

[Q] In regards to the transcriptome, people rediscover your intuitions, because they look at the coregulated genes as a whole, and in the end, they fall back on what you imagined in the sixties.

Yes. It was predictable. It's a good representation of the idea, yes.

Ça ne m'amusait absolument pas ça, l'idée de faire des séquences. Je pensais qu'il fallait le faire, qu'on le ferait, mais qu'on avait le temps, qu'il n'y avait pas le feu au lac. Et que ce n'était pas la peine de se dépêcher pour faire les séquences. Evidemment qu'on allait faire les séquences et qu'on finirait par faire la séquence de l'homme. Et en fait, on n'a pas fait tellement de trucs depuis qu'on a fait la séquence humaine. On n'a pas fait grand-chose. On en fera, mais il faut du temps. Et c'était l'idée que j'avais au début. C'est-à-dire qu'il fallait le faire mais que j'aimais mieux que ce soit les autres qui le fassent.

[Q] Et la post-génomique, dont on parle beaucoup aujourd'hui, comment vous... C'est-à-dire ces nouvelles technologies qui permettraient d'observer l'organisme de manière globale, les réseaux de protéines...

Ça, je considère que ça sera pour les générations futures, mais pas la mienne.

[Q] En ce qui concerne le transcriptome, les gens retrouvent beaucoup vos intuitions, puisqu'ils regardent l'ensemble des gènes co-régulés, et finalement, ils retombent sur ce que vous aviez imaginé dans les années 60.

Oui. Ça c'était prévisible. Ça, c'était une bonne illustration de l'idée, oui.

François Jacob (1920-2013) was a French biochemist whose work has led to advances in the understanding of the ways in which genes are controlled. In 1965 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, together with Jacque Monod and André Lwoff, for his contribution to the field of biochemistry. His later work included studies on gene control and on embryogenesis. Besides the Nobel Prize, he also received the Lewis Thomas Prize for Writing about Science for 1996 and was elected a member of the French Academy in 1996.

Listeners: Michel Morange

Michel Morange est généticien et professeur à L'Université Paris VI ainsi qu'à l'Ecole Normale Supérieure où il dirige le Centre Cavaillès d'Histoire et de Philosophie des Sciences. Après l'obtention d'une license en Biochimie ainsi que de deux Doctorats, l'un en Biochimie, l'autre en Histoire et Philosophie des Sciences, il rejoint le laboratoire de Génétique Moléculaire dirigé par le Professeur François Jacob à l'Institut Pasteur. Ses principaux travaux de recherche se sont portés sur l'Histoire de la Biologie au XXème siècle, la naissance et le développement de la Biologie Moléculaire, ses transformations récentes et ses interactions avec les autres disciplines biologiques. Auteur de "La Part des Gènes" ainsi que de "Histoire de la Biologie Moléculaire", il est spécialiste de la structure, de la fonction et de l'ingénerie des protéines.

Michel Morange is a professor of Biology and Director of the Centre Cavaillès of History and Philosophy of Science at the Ecole Normale Supérieure. After having obtained a Bachelor in biochemistry and two PhDs, one in Biochemistry, the other in History and Philosophy of Science, he went on to join the research unit of Molecular Genetics headed by François Jacob, in the Department of Molecular Biology at the Pasteur Institute, Paris. Together with Olivier Bensaude, he discovered that Heat Shock Proteins are specifically expressed on the onset of the mouse zygotic genome activation. Since then he has been working on the properties of Heat Shock Proteins, their role in aggregation and on the regulation of expression of these proteins during mouse embryogenesis. He is the author of 'A History of Molecular Biology' and 'The Misunderstood Gene'.

Tags: human sequence, genome

Duration: 1 minute, 9 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008