Quotes of interest — Brenner (1990) and discussion.

Sydney Brenner is a well-known figure in genetics, having made major contributions to our understanding of gene function and establishing Caenorhabditis elegans as the enormously popular model organism that it is today. He shared the 2002 Nobel Prize for “discoveries concerning genetic regulation of organ development and programmed cell death’”.  He was also outspoken about various […]

Mattick on transposable element function.

John Mattick, University of Queensland, is one of the leading proponents of the idea that much — perhaps most — of the human genome is functional. He has been making claims along these lines for at least 15 years, but seems to always present it as a new idea. Readers of this blog may […]

Good on ya, New Scientist!

From their recent special Unknown genome: What we still don’t know about our DNA, New Scientist gets it right with the following blurb:


Once the vast majority of our DNA was dismissed as junk, but now we know it is important – or so you might have […]

Genome size + Cambrian Explosion = Nonsense squared.

I really am thinking about writing a Sokal-style paper for a physics journal to see if they’ll accept it.

The Cambrian explosion triggered by critical turning point in genome size evolution Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2010 Jan 11. [Epub ahead of print] Li DJ, Zhang S

The Cambrian explosion is a grand challenge to […]

Quick catch up.

I just got back from a conference + mini-vacation, and haven’t been able to post while I was away. It seems some important papers came out while I was offline. For more, see these summaries already available in blogtown.

Endogenous (non-retro) virus evolution:

Original paper Not Exactly Rocket Science ERV NeuroLogica The Loom (and […]

Does junk DNA protect against mutation?

One of the most common hypotheses that I hear with regard to possible non-coding DNA function is that it serves to protect genes against mutation. Junk DNA, according to this proposal, is there to provide a defensive shield against mutagens (usually this includes UV, ionizing radiation, chemical mutagens, viruses, and/or oxygen radicals). I am […]

Science by press release, but still interesting...

No paper out yet, and not even any details made available, but this looks interesting:

Reduced genome works fine with 2000 chunks missing

To put a figure on how much of our DNA is non-essential, Vrijenhoek and his colleagues screened the genomes of 600 healthy students, searching for chunks of DNA at least […]

Quotes of interest - ERVs.

It has been quite some time since the last update to the Quotes of interest series on junk DNA. Most of the posts have sought to demonstrate that the exhausting cliché that scientists dismissed possible functions for non-coding DNA until recently is false. Therefore, I have provided many quotes indicating that many (if not […]

Quotes of interest -- Alu again.

I discussed the early papers involving the discovery of Alu elements in a previous post in the series. Unlike some transposable elements that are capable of autonomous transposition, Alu elements do not encode the requisite enzymes and depend on those of other sequences such as LINE-1 elements. Alu is restricted to primates, and its […]

Quotes of interest -- satellite DNA in the news.

I have already made note of some of the coverage of noncoding DNA that appeared in Science during the 1980s, and as a sequel to that earlier installment of the series, I want to talk about the coverage in Nature from the late 1960s and early 1970s. Because SINEs, LINEs, pseudogenes, and introns were […]