Monday, June 18, 2007

Junk DNA useful after all

The ENCODE consortium’s major findings include the discovery that the majority of DNA in the human genome is transcribed into functional molecules, called RNA, and that these transcripts extensively overlap one another. This broad pattern of transcription challenges the long-standing view that the human genome consists of a relatively small set of discrete genes, along with a vast amount of so-called junk DNA that is not biologically active.
The new data indicate the genome contains very little unused sequences and, in fact, is a complex, interwoven network. In this network, genes are just one of many types of DNA sequences that have a functional impact. “Our perspective of transcription and genes may have to evolve,” the researchers state in their Nature paper, noting the network model of the genome “poses some interesting mechanistic questions” that have yet to be answered.

This seems a pretty reasonable finding. More crucial though, is that the idea of a "gay gene" or a "criminal gene" is pushed yet further away, and that we have a system whose form and function depends on interaction with multiple environments at multiple levels.


Post a Comment

<< Home