DNA

'Junk' DNA found to play crucial role in health or disease

Thursday, September 13, 2012 by: J. D. Heyes
Tags: junk DNA, gene switches, health

eTrust Pro Certified

Most Viewed Articles
Popular on Facebook
BACK INTO THE CLOSET: Why U.S. reporters are not allowed to write about rainbow events in nations where being gay is still condemned
Depopulation test run? 75% of children who received vaccines in Mexican town now dead or hospitalized
A family destroyed: Six-month-old dies after clinic injects baby with 13 vaccines at once without mother's informed consent
Biologist explains how marijuana causes tumor cells to commit suicide
INVESTIGATION: Three days before Dr. Bradstreet was found dead in a river, U.S. govt. agents raided his research facility to seize a breakthrough cancer treatment called GcMAF
BOMBSHELL: China and America already at war: Tianjin explosion carried out by Pentagon space weapon in retaliation for Yuan currency devaluation... Military helicopters now patrolling Beijing
Companies begin planting microchips under employees' skin
BAM! Chipotle goes 100% non-GMO; flatly rejecting the biotech industry and its toxic food ingredients
ECONOMIC SLAVERY FOR ALL: While we were distracted with the Confederate flag flap, Congress quietly forfeited our entire economic future via fast-track trade authority
NJ cops bust teenagers shoveling snow without a permit
McDonald's in global profit free fall as people everywhere increasingly reject chemically-altered toxic fast food
March Against Monsanto explodes globally... World citizens stage massive protests across 38 countries, 428 cities... mainstream media pretends it never happened
Italian court rules mercury and aluminum in vaccines cause autism: US media continues total blackout of medical truth
SCOTUS same-sex marriage decision may have just legalized the concealed carry of loaded firearms across all 50 states, nullifying gun laws everywhere
Orthorexia Nervosa - New mental disorder aimed at people who insist on eating a clean diet
Vicious attack on Dr. Oz actually waged by biotech mafia; plot to destroy Oz launched after episode on glyphosate toxicity went viral
Nearly every mass shooting in the last 20 years shares one surprising thing? and it's not guns
Holistic cancer treatment pioneer Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez dies suddenly; patients mourn the loss of a compassionate, innovative doctor who helped thousands heal from cancer
Delicious
(NaturalNews) Human biology is a mysterious thing, which is why perplexing diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes and psychiatric disorders are so hard to predict and, as is often the case, to treat as well. Another complexity involves understanding how and why one individual might contract a debilitating or deadly disease like depression or cancer, while an identical twin remains the epitome of health.

Now, though, scientists have identified a clue that could eventually help them figure out such riddles. They know that the human genome is filled with at least four million gene switches that inhabit bits of DNA which were at one time written off as "junk" but have turned out to play crucial roles in controlling how cells, organs and other tissues behave, The New York Times reported.

"The discovery, considered a major medical and scientific breakthrough, has enormous implications for human health because many complex diseases appear to be caused by tiny changes in hundreds of gene switches," said the paper.

Junk in DNA contains a 'complex system'

The findings, which are the result of a large federal project that involves 440 scientists from 32 labs around the world, will have an immediate impact on the understanding of how alterations in the non-gene portions of DNA actually contribute to the formation of human diseases. That in turn could lead to the development of new drugs aimed at treating those diseases. The discovery can also help explain how the environment affects risk, the paper said.

In the case of twins, researchers note, just small changes in environmental exposure can alter gene switches slightly, resulting in one twin getting a disease while the other does not.

As scientists dug deeper into the "junk" - described as parts of the DNA that are not actual genes that contain instructions for proteins - they found a complex system that controls genes in which at least 80 percent of the DNA is both active and needed. In all, the system of switches act much like dimmer switches for lights in that they control which genes are used in a cell and when they are used, in addition to determining whether a cell becomes a neuron or a liver cell.

"It's Google Maps," Eric Lander, president of the Broad Institute, a joint research endeavor of Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told the Times.

By comparison, the project's predecessor, the Human Genome Project, which govern the entire sequence of human DNA, "was like getting a picture of Earth from space," said Lander.

"It doesn't tell you where the roads are, it doesn't tell you what traffic is like at what time of the day, it doesn't tell you where the good restaurants are, or the hospitals or the cities or the rivers," he added, according to the Times.

The new result "is a stunning resource," said Lander, who was not involved in the latest project but was a leader in the Human Genome Project. "My head explodes at the amount of data."

Researchers published their discoveries recently in a half-dozen papers in the journal Nature, as well in 24 papers in Genome Research and Genome Biology. Additionally, the Journal of Biological Chemistry is publishing six review articles, while Science has agreed to publish yet another article related to the findings, the Times said.

'A really big deal'

Human DNA is "a lot more active than we expected, and there are a lot more things happening than we expected," Ewan Birney of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory-European Bioinformatics Institute, a lead researcher on the project, told the paper in an interview.

In one of the papers for Nature, scientists tie the gene switches to a host of human diseases including multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, celiac disease, Crohn's disease - and to other physical traits such as height.

In large studies over the past 10 years, researchers have discovered that small changes in human DNA sequences boost the risk of a person contracting those diseases. But such changes were in the junk, now often called the dark matter - they were not gene changes - and the significance of them was not clear. The new data shows that many of those changes alter gene switches and are in turn very significant.

"Most of the changes that affect disease don't lie in the genes themselves; they lie in the switches," said Michael Snyder, a Stanford University researcher for the project, dubbed Encode, for Encyclopedia of DNA Elements.

That, adds Dr. Bradley Bernstein, an Encode researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital, "is a really big deal."

"I don't think anyone predicted that would be the case," Bernstein added.

Sources:

http://www.nytimes.com

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v489/n7414/full/489045a.html

http://www.genome.gov/10005107

Follow real-time breaking news headlines on
Junk DNA at FETCH.news
Join over four million monthly readers. Your privacy is protected. Unsubscribe at any time.
comments powered by Disqus
Take Action: Support NaturalNews.com by linking back to this article from your website

Permalink to this article:

Embed article link: (copy HTML code below):

Reprinting this article:
Non-commercial use OK, cite NaturalNews.com with clickable link.

Follow Natural News on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and Pinterest

Colloidal Silver

Advertise with NaturalNews...

Support NaturalNews Sponsors:

Advertise with NaturalNews...

GET SHOW DETAILS
+ a FREE GIFT

Sign up for the FREE Natural News Email Newsletter

Receive breaking news on GMOs, vaccines, fluoride, radiation protection, natural cures, food safety alerts and interviews with the world's top experts on natural health and more.

Join over 7 million monthly readers of NaturalNews.com, the internet's No. 1 natural health news site. (Source: Alexa.com)

Your email address *

Please enter the code you see above*

No Thanks

Already have it and love it!

Natural News supports and helps fund these organizations:

* Required. Once you click submit, we will send you an email asking you to confirm your free registration. Your privacy is assured and your information is kept confidential. You may unsubscribe at anytime.