Just as God doesn’t play dice with the Universe, I suspect what seems junk, serves some purpose. Scientists at U of W will tell.
Cross posted at my MedInfo blog.
The Human Genome Project, completed in 2003, produced the identity of the entire human genetic code at the most fundamental level - the base. Three billion chemical bases from each parent pair together in a sequence along a twisting DNA ladder.
Only five percent of the material is actual genes; those 23,000 genes are the work horses that make molecules, usually proteins. The rest was initially thought to be useless "junk."
Wanting to understand how such waste could occur in nature, the NHGRI nearly a decade ago launched the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements, or ENCODE, to learn what that 95 percent was all about - particularly, where biological activity might be taking place in it. Last month, in a flurry of papers published in high-profile journals, ENCODE researchers concluded that, in fact, at least 80 percent of the human genome serves some biochemical purpose.
Now, building on the momentum, ENCODE has awarded another round of major grants to examine the data in new and even more rigorous ways to gain a deeper understanding of how the 80 percent affects genes. Keles' group will concentrate on areas of the genome that contain nearly identical repeating segments of base pairs. ENCODE did not include these repetitive areas in its earlier analysis.