Thursday, January 28, 2010

That spells DNA...

One of my favorite science nerd songs is Jonathan Coulton's "That Spells DNA".

There are a few factual errors in the song.  He states that "each cell has a nucleus", but that is not true.  Red blood cells (erythrocytes) in humans and mammals do not contain nuclei.  That being said, I still love the song.

The following lyrics always make me wish I had a computer nearby so I could see if they were real sequences:

If it says TGGTCGAAC
Then you might get the cancer
Then you shouldn't eat shrimp or nuts
Then you'll probably wish that you didn't know

According to JoCo they are made up, saying: "I'm pretty sure that actual important strings of DNA would be too long to put into a song and still have a song that someone might want to listen to."  However, I decided to BLAST the sequences and see if anything came up.  Yes, I am that big of a nerd.

I had to change the BLAST parameters to accomodate the short sequences - notably changing the expect threshold to 5 and the word size to 16.  The first two were still to short for a result.

However, the last matched to the gene Casc1, cancer susceptibility candidate 1.  It's been implicated in mouse lung adenoma.  So, indeed, you probably wish that you didn't know.


  1. I knew there was a reason I loved you so much... :-)

  2. And Tae thinks *I'm* weird... :)

  3. Ok i will pretend to be the dumb jock in the back of the class, I didnt understand much at all

  4. Lara, thanks!!

    Dan, you are weird, just in a different way. :)

    Big Daddy Diesel, no worries. I'm a science nerd and don't expect everyone else to be. Mostly this was entertaining to me.

  5. I love that it means anything at all.. but I still mess it up when I sing along

  6. I was looking up the sequences in the song (as I'm sure everyone has that has heard this song) and I noticed that you are in bioinformatics?! My girlfriend is studying that at the University of Texas, I'd be interested to hear what you've done with it and your experiences!

    Matthew Burke