Heirlooms in the Attic

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Science  07 Nov 2003:
Vol. 302, Issue 5647, pp. 997-999
DOI: 10.1126/science.1092271

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As the human genome was being sequenced, many people suggested just sequencing protein-coding regions because the rest of the genome is "junk" DNA. As Johnston and Stormo explain in their Perspective, thankfully those who advocated sequencing the entire genome did us all a big service. It turns out that a surprising proportion of the so-called junk DNA is highly conserved ( Dermitzakis et al .), suggesting that even though it is noncoding DNA, it does have important functions that have yet to be elucidated.