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Carphology by A Fo Ben

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Junk DNA yields its secrets

What genetics needed was to get more complicated. Ask any jobbing neurologist—genetics’ problem was that it was too self-evident, predictable and there weren't quite enough acronyms or use of jargon. All this exploded ‘overnight’ in September with the release of data from the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project and the discovery that the 98% of the genome which does not directly code for genes is stuffed full of regions that control gene expression from afar—so called enhancing and promoting regions. In fact, 80% of what was rashly called ‘junk DNA’ is in fact vital: my surprise is that this figure is not higher—nature abhors redundancy. A series of 30 papers draws references from evolutionary biology to herald a new era …

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