Non-coding DNA

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Bladderwort (Utricularia) has 3% noncoding DNA,[1] which is low for flowering plants.

Non-coding DNA sequences are parts of an organism's DNA which do not code for protein sequences. It is often called junk DNA.[2]

Some non-coding DNA is transcribed into functional non-coding RNA molecules (e.g. transfer RNA, ribosomal RNA, and regulatory RNAs). Other DNA sequences are not transcribed, or give rise to RNA transcripts of unknown function. The amount of non-coding DNA varies greatly between species. For example, over 98% of the human genome is noncoding DNA,[3] 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[4] suggested in September 2012 that over 80% of DNA in the human genome "serves some purpose, biochemically speaking".[5] This conclusion was strongly criticized by some other scientists.[6][7]

Historical note[change | change source]

The term "junk DNA" was first used by Charles Ehret and Gérard de Haller in a paper.[8] Widely influential was Susuno Ohno's 1972 paper.[9] The term has been replaced by the more neutral term "non-coding DNA".

References[change | change source]

  1. "Worlds record breaking plant: deletes its noncoding "Junk" DNA". Design & Trend. 2013. Archived from the original on 2016-03-25. Retrieved 2013-06-04.
  2. Carey, Nessa 2017. Junk DNA: a journey through the dark matter of the genome. Columbia University Press. ISBN 9780231539418
  3. Elgar G. & Vavouri T. 2008. Tuning in to the signals: non-coding sequence conservation in vertebrate genomes. Trends in Genetics. 24 (7): 344–52. [1][permanent dead link]
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Robin McKie (24 February 2013). "Scientists attacked over claim that 'junk DNA' is vital to life". The Observer.
  7. Graur, Dan; et al. (2013). "On the immortality of television sets: "function" in the human genome according to the evolution-free gospel of ENCODE". Genome Biology and Evolution. 5 (3): 578–590. doi:10.1093/gbe/evt028. PMC 3622293. PMID 23431001.
  8. Ehret C.F. & De Haller G. 1963. Origin, development, and maturation of organelles and organelle systems of the cell surface in Paramecium. Journal of Ultrastructure Research 23: SUPPL6:1–42.
  9. Ohno S. 1972. So much junk in our genome. In Brookhaven Symposia in Biology. New York: Gordon & Breach. ed: Smith H.H. 23: p366–370.