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How “useless junk” DNA switches on a target gene

Genetic material “once thought to be useless junk” turns on a target gene/Hongtao Chen, Princeton University

From ScienceDaily:

Researchers have captured video showing how pieces of DNA once thought to be useless can act as on-off switches for genes.

These pieces of DNA are part of over 90 percent of the genetic material that are not genes. Researchers now know that this “junk DNA” contains most of the information that can turn on or off genes. But how these segments of DNA, called enhancers, find and activate a target gene in the crowded environment of a cell’s nucleus is not well understood.

Now a team led by researchers at Princeton University has captured how this happens in living cells. The video allows researchers to see the enhancers as they find and connect to a gene to kick-start its activity. The study was published in the journal Nature Genetics.

Analyses of how enhancers activate genes can aid in the understanding of normal development, when even small genetic missteps can result in birth defects. The timing of gene activation also is important in the development of many diseases including cancer. Paper. (paywall) – Hongtao Chen, Michal Levo, Lev Barinov, Miki Fujioka, James B. Jaynes, Thomas Gregor. Dynamic interplay between enhancer–promoter topology and gene activity. Nature Genetics, 2018; DOI: 10.1038/s41588-018-0175-z More.

“The timing of gene activation also is important in the development of many diseases including cancer.” So did a Darwinian belief in the vast library of junk genes delay the discovery of steps in the path to cancer?:

But what I found astonishing was why it’s so hard for people to accept that much of DNA must indeed be junk. Even to someone like me who is not an expert, the existence of junk DNA appeared perfectly normal. I think that junk DNA shouldn’t shock us at all if we accept the standard evolutionary picture. – “Three reasons why junk DNA makes evolutionary sense” (Scientific American, 2012) More.

Junk DNA may not be Darwinism’s biggest blooper  but it is the one that is currently attracting the most attention.

How “junk” DNA switches on gene from Princeton University on Vimeo.

See also: Note: One junk DNA defender just isn’t doing politeness anymore. 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


Interestingly, this was predicted in 1971.
Ever since the initial demonstration of the existence of repetitive DNA there has been no dearth of theories on the function of this material. ... Following is a list of functions that have been proposed ... 1. Recognition of centromeres of common origin. 2. Recognition between homologous chromosomes during pairing. 3. Regions involved in the initiation of replication and/or transcription. 4. Sites concerned with specifying the folding patterns of chromosomes. 5. Recognition sites for the process of genetic recombination. 6. Provision of raw material for genetic divergence. 7. Reflection of similarities in the structure of different proteins. 8. DNA concerned with the regulation of gene expression (regulatory DNA). 9. Reflection of multiplicity of repeated genes, as for example, in the master and slave or multistranded chromosome hypothesis.
--- C.J. Bostock "Repetitious DNA", Advances in Cell Biology 1971;2:153-223 Quaesitor

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