For some time, I have wanted a new term for the broad category of DNA otherwise commonly referred to as “junk DNA”, i.e., everything other than genes and gene regulatory elements. “Non-coding DNA” is about the best option I have seen, in that it refers to DNA that does not encode a protein relevant to organismal biology, but this doesn’t quite work because some transposable elements do encode enzymes used in reverse transcription. Plus, this is a bit of an ungainly term that isn’t very catchy at all.
One that I think is somewhat catchy and encompasses most of what we need it to, is “DN/A“. Now, “n/a” can stand for either “not available” or “not applicable”, and in this case it would be in reference to organism-level functions for the majority of DNA in the genome. In other words, it does not distinguish between sequences that have an unknown function, no gene-related function, or no function at all, which is what we want.
The only question is, how to pronounce it so that it is distinguished from DNA when spoken? Give us your suggestions in the comments.
If you have alternative suggestions, let us hear them too.