The indispensable genome

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Science  27 Nov 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6264, pp. 1028-1029
DOI: 10.1126/science.aad7925

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Game-changing moments in functional genomics often reflect the development and application of powerful new reagents and methods to provide new phenotypic insight on a global scale. Three independent studies describe systematic, genome-scale approaches to defining human genes that are indispensable for viability, which collectively form the essential gene set. On pages 1092 and 1096 of this issue, Blomen et al. (1) and Wang et al. (2), respectively, report a consistent set of ∼2000 genes that are indispensable for viability in human cells. Moreover, very similar results were obtained by Hart et al. (3). For the first time, we now have a firm handle on the core set of essential genes that are required for human cell division. This opens the door to studying the roles of essential genes, how gene essentiality depends on genetic and tissue contexts, and how essential genes evolve.