'Junk DNA'

And now … Transposable elements (junk DNA) shape the evolution of mammalian development

Spread the love

According to a new paper at Nature Reviews Genetics:

Abstract: Transposable elements (TEs) promote genetic innovation but also threaten genome stability. Despite multiple layers of host defence, TEs actively shape mammalian-specific developmental processes, particularly during pre-implantation and extra-embryonic development and at the maternal–fetal interface. Here, we review how TEs influence mammalian genomes both directly by providing the raw material for genetic change and indirectly via co-evolving TE-binding Krüppel-associated box zinc finger proteins (KRAB-ZFPs). Throughout mammalian evolution, individual activities of ancient TEs were co-opted to enable invasive placentation that characterizes live-born mammals. By contrast, the widespread activity of evolutionarily young TEs may reflect an ongoing co-evolution that continues to impact mammalian development.

Senft, A.D., Macfarlan, T.S. Transposable elements shape the evolution of mammalian development. Nat Rev Genet 22, 691–711 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41576-021-00385-1

Paywalled, sadly.

No wonder people are backing away from the Darwinian staple of junk DNA.

We wonder, when will the pop science articles start to appear, claiming that junk DNA was never really an argument used by Darwinian evolutionists in support of their cause and that, in any event, they were right to use such an argument.

You may also wish to read: Term “junk DNA” critiqued at journal. But now remember the history! “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?


Casey Luskin reflects on the “official” demise of the term “junk DNA.” 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.

One Reply to “And now … Transposable elements (junk DNA) shape the evolution of mammalian development

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    “co-evolving TE-binding Krüppel-associated box zinc finger proteins (KRAB-ZFPs). ”

    I think this sets a record for abstruse academic obfuscation.

Leave a Reply