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How The Junk DNA Hypothesis Has Changed Since 1980 - Richard Sternberg PhD in evolutionary biology - Oct. 2009 - Excellent Summary
Excerpt: A surprising finding of ENCODE and other transcriptome projects is that almost every nucleotide of human (and mouse) chromosomes is transcribed in a regulated way. http://www.evolutionnews.org/2009/10/how_the_junk_dna_hypothesis_ha.html
A 'scientific revolution' is taking place, as researchers explore the genomic jungle:
"The science of life is undergoing changes so jolting that even its top researchers are feeling something akin to shell-shock. Just four years after scientists finished mapping the human genome - the full sequence of 3 billion DNA "letters" folded within every cell - they find themselves confronted by a biological jungle deeper, denser, and more difficult to penetrate than anyone imagined."
BETHESDA, Md., Wed., June 13, 2007 -"An international research consortium (ENCODE) today published a set of papers that promise to reshape our understanding of how the human genome functions. The findings challenge the traditional view of our genetic blueprint as a tidy collection of independent genes, pointing instead to a complex network in which genes, along with regulatory elements and other types of DNA sequences that do not code for proteins, interact in overlapping ways not yet fully understood." http://www.genome.gov/25521554
Encyclopedia Of DNA: New Findings Challenge Established Views On Human Genome:
The ENCODE consortium's major findings include the discovery that the majority of DNA in the human genome is transcribed into functional molecules, called RNA, and that these transcripts extensively overlap one another. This broad pattern of transcription challenges the long-standing view that the human genome consists of a relatively small set of discrete genes, along with a vast amount of so-called junk DNA that is not biologically active. The new data indicate the genome contains very little unused sequences and, in fact, is a complex, interwoven network. In this network, genes are just one of many types of DNA sequences that have a functional impact.
Concluding statement of the ENCODE study:
"we have also encountered a remarkable excess of experimentally identified functional elements lacking evolutionary constraint, and these cannot be dismissed for technical reasons. This is perhaps the biggest surprise of the pilot phase of the ENCODE Project, and suggests that we take a more 'neutral' view of many of the functions conferred by the genome." http://www.genome.gov/Pages/Research/ENCODE/nature05874.pdf
Intelligent Design - The anthropic Hypothesis