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Mouse junk DNA: “vast amounts of information vital to gene function”

File:PCWmice1.jpgIn “Mouse ‘junk’ DNA vital for gene regulation” (New Scientist, 03 July 2012) Hannah Krakauer reports,

Some junk is worth keeping. Non-coding, or junk, mouse DNA contains vast amounts of information vital to gene function – and those regulatory functions take up much more space on the genome than the all-important coding segments.

Less than 2 per cent of DNA actually codes for proteins, so the double helix is responsible for a great deal more than making proteins. Some segments are designated enhancers and promoters. These bind transcription factors that allow coding DNA to be read and translated into proteins. Other regions, called insulators, prevent neighbouring genes from being read together accidentally.

Taken together, the 300,000 regulatory regions comprised 11 per cent of the mouse genome. “What the study tells us is that cis-regulatory regions cover more than five times as much space as protein-coding regions,” says Feng Yue, also at the Ludwig Institute and a member of the research team.

Interesting denouement for junk DNA as a supposed slam dunk for Darwinism.

Regular readers will remember such highlights as Darwin’s junk DNA zealots “have forfeited any claim … to be speaking for science”:

Coyne and Avise are professors of genetics at major universities, so they cannot claim ignorance of the genomic evidence without thereby admitting negligence or incompetence. In fact, one of Coyne’s colleagues at the University of Chicago is James Shapiro, co-author of the 2005 article cited in Chapter 6 that listed over 80 known functions for non-protein-coding repetitive DNA. But if Coyne and Avise were not ignorant of the evidence, then they misrepresented it – and they continue to do so. Like Dawkins, Shermer and Kitcher, they have forfeited any claim they might have had to be speaking for science.

Also, What advice, on junk DNA, would Jonathan Wells give Francis Collins or Richard Dawkins?

Junk DNA: At Biologos, some keep the faith – it’s junk and that proves evolution (Note that, in the peculiar way these people have of arguing, junk DNA can prove that Darwin was right,but if it is not junk, no one will, in consequence, doubt that Darwin was right. They just look for another proof.)

Junk DNA: The Darwin faithful know in their hearts that it’s still junk

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2 Responses to Mouse junk DNA: “vast amounts of information vital to gene function”

  1. This source from “New Scientist” is quite wrong.

    New Scientist: “Non-coding, or junk, mouse DNA”

    They have conflated non-coding and non-functional, which is quite wrong.

    No scientist for 40 years, not since pre-Jacques Monod, has said that non-coding DNA was junk. Certainly Jacques Monod’s work on regulatory elements in the 1970′s showed that regulatory elements were non-coding but functional. Everyone in molecular biology knows this, and if a grad student in molecular biology did not know it, he would flunk his orals.

    The overwhelming majority of nucleotides in human DNA still have no known function.
    Larry Moran has totted up some quotients
    :

    Larry Moran summarizes data on fraction of Junk DNA
    Total Essential/Functional (so far) = 8.7%
    Total Junk (so far) = 65%
    Unknown (probably mostly junk) = 26.3%
    For references and further information click on the “Genomes & Junk DNA” link in the box

    LAST UPDATE: May 10, 2011 (fixed totals, and ribosomal RNA calculations)

    So the human genome, in terms of fractions of nucleotides, is at least 65% and up to 91.3% non-functional.

  2. Information is vital? Really?

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