Formerly thought “junk DNA,” lncRNA guides development of heart muscle cells
|September 13, 2016||Posted by News under 'Junk DNA', News|
Several years ago, biologists discovered a new type of genetic material known as long noncoding RNA. This RNA does not code for proteins and is copied from sections of the genome once believed to be “junk DNA.”
Since then, scientists have found evidence that long noncoding RNA, or lncRNA, plays roles in many cellular processes, including guiding cell fate during embryonic development. However, it has been unknown exactly how lncRNA exerts this influence.
Inspired by historical work showing that structure plays a role in the function of other classes of RNA such as transfer RNA, MIT biologists have now deciphered the structure of one type of lncRNA and used that information to figure out how it interacts with a cellular protein to control the development of heart muscle cells. This is one of first studies to link the structure of lncRNAs to their function. More. Paper. (paywall) – Zhihong Xue et al. A G-Rich Motif in the lncRNA Braveheart Interacts with a Zinc-Finger Transcription Factor to Specify the Cardiovascular Lineage. Molecular Cell, September 2016 DOI: 10.1016/j.molcel.2016.08.010
One doesn’t hear so much any more about how “junk DNA” is exactly what we should expect if Darwinism were a correct account of evolution. But finding out that it isn’t junk is, of course, a validation too, right? Some beliefs are just plain immune to the vagaries of evidence.
See also: The latest in functional junk DNA
and these for background:
New York Times science writer defends the myth of junk DNA
Is “dark genome” becoming the new name for junk DNA?
Old concepts die hard, especially when they are value-laden as “junk DNA” has been—it has been a key argument for Darwinism. So even though “dark genome” makes more sense given all the functions now being identified, expect “junk DNA” to be defended in practice.
For an odd example of that, see “Nothing makes sense in evolution except in the light of junk DNA?”: “If ENCODE [a project that identifies functions] is right, then Evolution is wrong.”
And more recently, Furore over no junk DNA?
For background, see Jonathan Wells on the junk DNA myth
Pod: Richard Sternberg on “junk DNA”
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