Mice that had it knocked out had severe congenital limb deformities:
A 2021 article in Nature, “Non-coding deletions identify Maenli lncRNA as a limb-specific En1 regulator,” reports important new functions for non-coding or “junk” DNA that underlie limb formation. Before we get to the paper itself, consider a description of it on the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences “Journal Club” blog. The latter describes the research in terms that sound like they could have come directly from an intelligent design source:
“Genes that code for proteins make up only about 2% of the human genome. Many researchers once dismissed the other 98% of the genome as “junk DNA,” but geneticists now know these noncoding regions help to regulate the activity of the 20,000 or so protein-coding genes identified.
“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.”
The technical paper in Nature describes the research. The investigators examined the chromosomes of people who had naturally occurring limb malformation, and found that these people had deletions of DNA encoding long non-coding RNA sequences (lncRNAs) from human chromosome 2.Casey Luskin, “Noncoding “Junk” DNA Is Important for Limb Formation” at Evolution News and Science Today
Then they replicated it in some unlucky mice.
The paper is closed access.
See also: Larry Moran’s new book sounds like a scorcher. 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.