News & AnalysisGenomics

ENCODE Project Writes Eulogy for Junk DNA

Science  07 Sep 2012:
Vol. 337, Issue 6099, pp. 1159-1161
DOI: 10.1126/science.337.6099.1159

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Summary

This week, 30 research papers, including six in Nature and additional papers published online by Science, sound the death knell for the idea that our DNA is mostly littered with useless bases. A decade-long project, the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE), has found that 80% of the human genome serves some purpose, biochemically speaking. Beyond defining proteins, the DNA bases highlighted by ENCODE specify landing spots for proteins that influence gene activity, strands of RNA with myriad roles, or simply places where chemical modifications serve to silence stretches of our chromosomes.