Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Functions for Some Subsets of Junk DNA

  • A 2002 study from the University of Michigan showed that segments of junk DNA called LINE-1 elements, once thought to be "leftovers from the distant evolutionary past" now "deserve more respect" because they are capable of repairing broken strands of DNA. [18]
  • A 2003 study from Tel Aviv University found crucial uses for "junk" sequences in human DNA. [3]
  • A 2004 study from the Cell Press suggests that "more than one third of the mouse and human genomes, previously thought to be non-functional, may play some role in the regulation of gene expression and promotion of genetic diversity." [4]
  • An article from BioEd Online details DNA which appears crucial although no function has yet been discovered. [5]
  • A 2005 study from the National Institutes of Health found that social behavior in rodents (and, possibly humans [6]) was affected by portions of the genetic code once thought to be "junk." [7]
  • A 2005 study from University of California-San Diego suggested that junk DNA is "critically important to an organism’s evolutionary survival." [8]
  • Findings from Purdue University in 2005 stated that "many DNA sequences previously believed to have no function actually may play specialized roles in cell behavior." [9]
  • A 2006 study by the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine (Johns Hopkins) stated that "Junk DNA may not be so junky after all." [10]
  • Researchers at the University of Illinois Society for Experimental Biology found an antifreeze-protein gene in a species of fish which "evolved" from junk DNA. [11]
  • A mathematical analysis of the genetic code by IBM identified patterns that suggested junk DNA had an important role after all. [12]
  • In 2006, University of Iowa researchers documented segments of RNA (previously considered "junk") that regulated protein production, and could generate microRNAs. [13]
A 2007 study from Stanford University School of Medicine found that "Large swaths of garbled human DNA once dismissed as junk appear to contain some valuable sections."


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