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DISCOVERY: MORE TO GENETICS THAN GENES 'Junk DNA' Doesn't Exist

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  • DISCOVERY: MORE TO GENETICS THAN GENES 'Junk DNA' Doesn't Exist

    PUBLICATION: GLOBE AND MAIL
    IDN: 071650147
    DATE: 2007.06.14
    PAGE: L4
    BYLINE:
    SECTION: Globe Life
    SOURCE: REUT
    EDITION: Metro
    DATELINE: Washington DC

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    DISCOVERY: MORE TO GENETICS THAN GENES
    'Junk DNA' Doesn't Exist


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    Reuters News Agency WASHINGTON An in-depth examination of the human DNA map has turned basic biology concepts upside down and may even rewrite the book on evolution and some causes of disease, researchers said yesterday.

    They found there was far more to genetics than the genes themselves and determined there was no such thing as "junk DNA." Some of the most useless-looking stretches of DNA may carry important information, they said.

    Thirty-five groups of researchers from 80 different organizations in 11 countries teamed up to share notes on just 1 per cent of the human genome.

    The findings, the start of the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements or ENCODE Project, were published in the journals Nature and Genome Research. "This is a landmark in our understanding of human biology," said Francis Collins, head of the National Human Genome Research Institute, which funded much of the work.

    When human genome research was published in 2003, some scientists voiced surprise that human beings had only about 30,000 genes. Rice, for instance, has 50,000.

    The new study confirms what many genetics experts had suspected - the genes are important, but so is the other DNA, the biological code for every living thing.

    What they discovered is that even DNA outside the genes transcribes information. Transcription is the process that turns DNA into something useful - such as a protein.

    Much of this action is going on outside the genes in the so-called regulatory regions that affect how and when a gene activates, Dr.

    Collins said.

    Ewan Birney of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory's European Bioinformatics Institute in Cambridge, England, said this helped explain how such a complex creature as a human arose from just four letters of code repeated over and over.

  • #2
    I remember reading that the YAP part of DNA that 11 per cent of earth's population has is a bunch of useless information. Perhaps there is some good that can come out of it.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Dan Draghici
      P

      The new study confirms what many genetics experts had suspected - the genes are important, but so is the other DNA, the biological code for every living thing.
      Well, duh. The people who described the "junk DNA" as junk are sort of like people who open up a Microsoft Word file with WordPad and think the only part that matters is the readable text.

      Of course, the "junk DNA" in our cells must be to genetics something like what formatting codes and XML tags are to Microsoft Word documents.

      What will be interesting is to see if our bodies have what amount to a lot of different biological software packages in our bodies. Maybe we have DNA/RNA equivalents of Basic, or some other program, for logic; a math program for determining how intense processes should be, how long they should last and how often they should repeat; a "text" system, for saying what kind of garden-variety traits we should have; and maybe an "Adobe Acrobat" system for creating a biological picture of special traits that have to be exactly one certain way. Or maybe there are different languages for brain things and stomach things.

      It would be great if the DNA people could get some really great linguists and computer scientists to look at DNA and pretend as if it were the operating system from a Martian laptop. If computer scientists and linguists looked at DNA that way, maybe they could come up with a lot of insights.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by allbell
        What will be interesting is to see if our bodies have what amount to a lot of different biological software packages in our bodies. Maybe we have DNA/RNA equivalents of Basic, or some other program, for logic; a math program for determining how intense processes should be, how long they should last and how often they should repeat; a "text" system, for saying what kind of garden-variety traits we should have; and maybe an "Adobe Acrobat" system for creating a biological picture of special traits that have to be exactly one certain way. Or maybe there are different languages for brain things and stomach things.

        You're only running on ver. 1.2? I'm on 3.0. ;-P

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