Estimates of how much human DNA is functional: 8.2% to 80%,according to a recent post at ScienceBlogs:
Science and its interpretation is wonderful. Today I saw a post on Twitter from @LAbizar, referencing an @GEN, post that stated 8.2% of Human DNA is Functional with a link to a GEN article: “Surprise: Only 8.2% of Human DNA Is Functional.” The GEN writeup cited a PLoS Genetics article, “8.2% of the Human Genome Is Constrained: Variation in Rates of Turnover across Functional Element Classes in the Human Lineage,” released today.
In 2012, the ENCODE (Encyclopedia of DNA Elements) project published a landmark summary, “An integrated encyclopedia of DNA elements in the human genome,” from nine years of work measuring the ways in which DNA structure and its interactions with proteins such as transcription factors might contribute to the regulation of genes. In the paper’s abstract the team stated that “These data enabled us to assign biochemical functions for 80% of the genome, in particular outside of the well-studied protein-coding regions.” As a very small fraction of the genome (~1%) encodes for protein sequences, a question in science has been, what does the other 99% do? ENCODE data demonstrated that much of this DNA participates in biochemistry in some way. Many lauded the work for its tour-de-force effort and the resources contributed have been significant.
Not a lot of room between those estimates, is there? Blogger finchtalk says that it all depends on what you count.
Well, if it counts for anything … it’s not junk.
Note: Here’s the referenced 8.2% article. (Public access.)
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Hat tip: Timothy Kershner