A study from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators has found a surprising role for what had been considered a nonfunctional “junk” RNA molecule: controlling the cellular response to stress. In their report in the Dec. 15 issue of Cell, the researchers describe finding that a highly specific interaction between two elements previously known to repress gene transcription — B2 RNA and EZH2, an enzyme previously known only to silence genes — actually induces the expression of stress-response genes in mouse cells.
Less than 2 percent of the genome in mammals actually codes for proteins, and for many years it was thought that noncoding DNA was a useless artifact. While some is translated into RNA molecules required for maintaining and regulating cellular functions — such as transfer RNA and microRNAs — the impression that most noncoding RNA serves no function has persisted. This has been particularly true for long noncoding RNAs and is even more the case for molecules transcribed from “parasitic” retrotransposons — repetitive DNA sequences inserted throughout the genome. But recent studies in mouse cells have indicated that RNA transcribed from the B2 retrotransposon binds to stress genes and suppresses their transcription. Paper. (paywall) – Athanasios Zovoilis, Catherine Cifuentes-Rojas, Hsueh-Ping Chu, Alfredo J. Hernandez, Jeannie T. Lee. Destabilization of B2 RNA by EZH2 Activates the Stress Response. Cell, 2016; 167 (7): 1788 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2016.11.041More.
The Darwinians who don’t do politeness while defending “junk” DNA (and RNA?) may wish to consider attending Remedial Miss Manners.
And a merry Christmas to all.
See also: “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
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