Now that the very concept of “junk DNA” is being officially retired, this all seems pretty stale. Note: Well yes, there is still Nathan Lents and Human Errors: A Panorama of Our Glitches, from Pointless Bones to Broken Genes: Still wrong about sinuses but still writing about them.
Wells: It’s not a moral failure to be mistaken about evidence that supposedly supports Darwinian evolution. But the title of Collins’s Language of God was deceptive from the start. And Collins has looked the other way as it has continued to deceive. I consider this one more moral failure of Francis Collins.
Luskin: “these authors remember a day when ‘the common doctrine was that the nonprotein coding part of eukaryotic genome’ consisted of ‘“useless sequences, often organized in repetitive elements.’” Good. Keep the history alive. It won’t be very long before Darwinians start claiming that they never thought it was junk. Then they will start insinuating that WE said it was junk. No, that doesn’t make any sense but if the history is forgotten, it doesn’t need to either.
“The days of ‘junk DNA’ are over…”? So the house is clearly supporting this move away from the Darwinian position. Oh yes, let’s not forget that “junk DNA” was very much a Darwinian position. Most or all of the Darwinian Bigs signed onto junk DNA as part of their thesis about the unguided nature of life. The big question will doubtless be put off for now: Why does it only count if Darwinian predictions are right but never if they are wrong?
Researcher: “The paper describes an important new mechanistic insight into the way one can trigger inflammatory signals in cancer cells to either kill them directly or make them vulnerable to cancer-killing therapies,” says cancer biologist Stephen Baylin of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, who was not involved in the research. “The importance of it is really quite profound.”
At Quanta: “Genomes hold immense quantities of noncoding DNA. Some of it is essential for life, some seems useless, and some has its own agenda.”
At Phys.org: When the researchers deleted a protein called Prod that binds to a specific satellite DNA sequence in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, the flies’ chromosomes scattered outside of the nucleus into tiny globs of cellular material called micronuclei, and the flies died. “But we realized at this point that this [piece of] satellite DNA that was bound by the Prod protein was completely missing in the nearest relatives of Drosophila melanogaster,” Jagannathan said. “It completely doesn’t exist. So that’s an interesting little problem.”
Wow. Dr. Graur should get out more. Only crackpots argue that Jesus did not exist… There is less evidence for the existence of Socrates but no one gets all skeptical about him. Interesting responses.
At Axios: Why it matters: The bulk of the human genome is noncoding regions, some of which play an important role in how genes are expressed. New tools are allowing scientists to test exactly how these elements — once called “junk DNA” — work, which could lead to new drug targets.
William Dembski: The big question, then, is whether CRISPR gene editing will allow for huge improvements of human and other animal forms via genetic enhancements. My prediction is that it won’t. Specifically, I predict that attempted enhancements of the human germ line using CRISPR gene editing will (1) quickly hit an “enhancement boundary” beyond which enhancements are no longer feasible and (2) prove self-canceling in the sense that intended benefits will be undone by unintended deficits.
Researchers: “Long disregarded as junk DNA or genomic dark matter, endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) have turned out to represent important components of the antiviral immune response. “
At Nature: “A new study in Nature underscores just how important noncoding DNA can be for human development. The authors show that deletions in a noncoding region of DNA on chromosome 2 cause severe congenital limb abnormalities. This is the first time a human disease has been definitively linked to mutations in noncoding DNA, says lead author Stefan Mundlos, head of the development and disease research group at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin, Germany.”
He thinks there must be something “seriously wrong” with science if people keep looking for new functions for junk DNA. What’s “wrong,” so far as the rest of us can see, is that researchers keep finding new functions that formerly-junk DNA performs, so they keep looking. For the same reasons as fisherfolk return to the well-stocked lake.
Also: “The work revealed that the last surviving kākāpō population, isolated on an island off New Zealand for the last 10,000 years, has somehow purged deleterious mutations, despite the species’ low genetic diversity.” Hmm.
Sheldon: If I recall correctly, the original definition of “functional” was whether that piece of DNA was turned into a protein, which depended on finding a “start” and a “stop” codon. The Human Genome Project reported that some 90% of the human genome didn’t have these “start/stop” features, and hence was “non-functional”. [“Non-functional” underwent considerable revision later.]