Far From ‘Junk,’ DNA Dark Matter Proves Crucial to Health – NYTimes.com


This research – broadening our understanding of genetics from the Human Genome Project to include genetic ‘dark matter’ or ‘junk’, and the critical role it plays in turning genes on and off – is another reminder of the complexity and wonder of the human body. Just as we think we ‘know everything’, another major discovery reminds us of just how much we have yet to understand. Quote:

As scientists delved into the “junk” — parts of the DNA that are not actual genes containing instructions for proteins — they discovered a complex system that controls genes. At least 80 percent of this DNA is active and needed. The result of the work is an annotated road map of much of this DNA, noting what it is doing and how. It includes the system of switches that, acting like dimmer switches for lights, control which genes are used in a cell and when they are used, and determine, for instance, whether a cell becomes a liver cell or a neuron.

“It’s Google Maps,” said Eric Lander, president of the Broad Institute, a joint research endeavor of Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In contrast, the project’s predecessor, the Human Genome Project, which determined the entire sequence of human DNA, “was like getting a picture of Earth from space,” he said. “It doesn’t tell you where the roads are, it doesn’t tell you what traffic is like at what time of the day, it doesn’t tell you where the good restaurants are, or the hospitals or the cities or the rivers.”

Far From ‘Junk,’ DNA Dark Matter Proves Crucial to Health – NYTimes.com.


4 thoughts on “Far From ‘Junk,’ DNA Dark Matter Proves Crucial to Health – NYTimes.com

  1. Not exactly. ENCODE’s identified DNA elements that bind to proteins, and also that up to 80% of the genome is transcribed into RNA, but these by themselves don’t make it “functional” unless you define functional as “being able to bind to DNA” like the authors have. The 80% figure is hyped-up balderdash.

    One of the authors of the paper clarifies it here. http://genomeinformatician.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/encode-my-own-thoughts.html


What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s