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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Junk reclaimed: Junk DNA now hailed as "powerful regulator"

Yes! See here:
Large swaths of garbled human DNA once dismissed as junk appear to contain some valuable sections, according to a new study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and the University of California-Santa Cruz. The scientists propose that this redeemed DNA plays a role in controlling when genes turn on and off.


It turns out that most of the segments described in the research paper cluster near genes that play a carefully orchestrated role during an animal's first few weeks after conception. Bejerano and his colleagues think that these sequences help in the intricate choreography of when and where those genes flip on as the animal lays out its body plan. In particular, the group found the sequences to be especially abundant near genes that help cells stick together. These genes play a crucial role early in an animal's life, helping cells migrate to the correct location or form into organs and tissues of the correct shape.

The intelligent design advocates have long maintained that junk DNA would not turn out to be junk, so this should be a score for their side, but watch fora ll sorts of people to deny that. For an interesting discussion of that problem, go here, but you have to hunt and peck on "junk" DNA.

Why is there an intelligent design controversy? Read By Design or by Chance?, my overview of the intelligent design controversy.

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