Scientists at the MDI Biological Laboratory and the University of Maine have discovered that genetic material in the cell that was previously thought to be “junk” because of its apparent lack of function likely plays a part in regulating genetic circuits responsible for regeneration in highly regenerative animals.
The discovery of these novel long noncoding RNAs and their role in regulating regeneration may lead to an answer to the paramount question that is being examined by scientists at the MDI Biological Laboratory: If highly regenerative animals such as zebrafish and salamanders can regenerate tissues and organs, why we can’t we?
The answer could one day lead to the development of drugs to trigger humans’ dormant pathways for regeneration. Like most other mammals, the capacity for regeneration in adult humans is limited.
In particular, the scientists looked at the role of noncoding RNAs, or RNAs that were formerly considered “junk” because they do not make proteins, in the early stages of heart regeneration in the zebrafish, a common aquarium fish that is one of nature’s champions of regeneration.
RNA, or ribonucleic acid, typically acts as a messenger that transports instructions from the DNA, the carrier of genetic information, to the machinery in the cell that manufactures proteins involved in biological functions.
“One of the secrets to decoding why zebrafish can regenerate their hearts while adult humans cannot may lie with these noncoding RNAs,” said King, the paper’s lead author. “The protein-coding genes in zebrafish and humans are more or less the same — what’s different is how they are regulated during regeneration by noncoding RNAs.” Paper. (open access) – Benjamin L. King, Michael C. Rosenstein, Ashley M. Smith, Christina A. Dykeman, Grace A. Smith, Viravuth P. Yin. RegenDbase: a comparative database of noncoding RNA regulation of tissue regeneration circuits across multiple taxa. npj Regenerative Medicine, 2018; 3 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41536-018-0049-0 More.
It looks like the war over how much of the human genome is junk left over from Darwinian evolution has not been a big help to science after all.
See also: Note: One junk DNA defender just isn’t doing politeness anymore. Hmmm. In a less Darwinian science workplace, that could become more a problem for him than for his colleagues.
See also: Junk DNA can actually change genitalia. Junk DNA played the same role in defending Darwinian evolution as claims that Neanderthal man was a subhuman. did: The vast library of junk genes and the missing link made Darwin’s story understandable to the average person and the missing link even became part of popular culture. With Darwinism so entrenched, the fact that these beliefs are not based on fact will be difficult to root out of the culture. Darwin-only school systems are part of the problem.
At Quanta: Cells need almost all of their genes, even the “junk DNA”
“Junk” RNA helps regulate metabolism
Junk DNA defender just isn’t doing politeness any more.
Anyone remember ENCODE? Not much junk DNA? Still not much. (Paper is open access.)
Yes, Darwin’s followers did use junk DNA as an argument for their position.
Another response to Darwin’s followers’ attack on the “not-much-junk-DNA” ENCODE findings