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Scientists discover double meaning in genetic code

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  • Scientists discover double meaning in genetic code

    "Since the genetic code was deciphered in the 1960s, scientists have assumed that it was used exclusively to write information about proteins. UW scientists were stunned to discover that genomes use the genetic code to write two separate languages. One describes how proteins are made, and the other instructs the cell on how genes are controlled. One language is written on top of the other, which is why the second language remained hidden for so long."

    “The fact that the genetic code can simultaneously write two kinds of information means that many DNA changes that appear to alter protein sequences may actually cause disease by disrupting gene control programs or even both mechanisms simultaneously,” said Stamatoyannopoulos.

  • #2
    This is complete twaddle. Molecular biologists have known about regulatory sequences, including those overlapping coding regions, since I was in grad school in the '70s. The ENCODE team has taken every opportunity to hype and overstate their results, and, not surprisingly, journalists are taken in by all this blather. They didn't discover these things, they mapped them over the whole genome. (Some researchers think they did it rather badly.) They redefined function as any positive result in any biochemical assay, such as transcription, much of which may be actually functionless, or protein binding, which again may or may not have any functional significance. Always read science news articles, even in Science and Nature, with a big block of salt handy.


    • #3
      I should clarify that there is no doubt that researchers will be able to mine the ENCODE results for many things that are useful. What is objectionable is the misleading hype that has appeared in the press, where the message seems to be that they have discovered regulatory sequences for the first time and declared ~80% of the genome to be "functional." The latter stuff is what's objectionable.