Junk or Not?

Researchers and bloggers discuss the ENCODE project's findings.

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What's the buzz? Do we really

What's the buzz? Do we really know whether protein synthesis and control is the only function of the genome? To keep 98%, 90% or 80% of the DNA as junk would be costly and not tolerated by evolution. So let's just think and work to discover its function. Michael Lerman, Ph.D., M.D.

The findings certainly

The findings certainly vindicate the hypothesis that much, most, or maybe all DNA has (or had) a purpose. I don't see how that validates the notion of intelligent design. It does, however, fit just fine with evolutionary theory.

One possible function of some of the extra-coding DNA might have to do with something as simple as proximity of structural features to genes or regulatory sequences. These could play a role in fine control of gene expression. Think closer to analog control than digital control.

Sheldon Engelhon

Dr. Lerman here is incorrect.

Dr. Lerman here is incorrect. Even casual observation shows that genome size is many times greater in some organisms than in others (e.g., 100 million nucleotides in thale cress, 2,500 million nucleotides in corn, 25,000 million nucleotides in some pine trees) and that the overwhelming majority of the inflated portion is not, and never has been functional in the sense of contributing to the phenotype of the organism. Evolution tolerates very well an enormous inflation of non-functional DNA sequences.