Some non-coding DNA is transcribed into functional non-coding RNA molecules (e.g. transfer RNA, ribosomal RNA, and regulatory RNAs), while others are not transcribed or give rise to RNA transcripts of unknown function. The amount of non-coding DNA varies greatly among species. For example, over 98% of the human genome is noncoding DNA, while only about 2% of a typical bacterial genome is non-coding DNA.
At first, much non-coding DNA had no known biological function. It was called junk DNA, particularly in the press. But many non-coding sequences are functional. These include genes for functional RNA molecules and DNA sequences such as "start replication" signals, centromeres, and telomeres.
Other noncoding sequences have not-yet-discovered functions. This is inferred from the high levels of sequence similarity seen in different species of DNA.
The Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project suggested in September 2012 that over 80% of DNA in the human genome "serves some purpose, biochemically speaking". This conclusion was strongly criticized by some other scientists.
References[change | change source]
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- The ENCODE Project Consortium (2012). "An integrated encyclopedia of DNA elements in the human genome". Nature. 489 (7414): 57–74. Bibcode:2012Natur.489...57T. doi:10.1038/nature11247. PMC 3439153. PMID 22955616.
- Pennisi, E. (2012). "Genomics. ENCODE project writes eulogy for junk DNA". Science. 337 (6099): 1159, 1161. doi:10.1126/science.337.6099.1159. PMID 22955811.
- Robin McKie (24 February 2013). "Scientists attacked over claim that 'junk DNA' is vital to life". The Observer.
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