Biology

What does junk DNA do?

DNA is very complex and we are still learning a lot every day about how it works. It is a line of code, but instead of 1 and 0 like in binary it has four letters, A, T, G and C. Not really letters, they are small pieces that make up DNA, a molecule. So, you take trillions of them arrange them in different sequences like ATTGCCACCCTTTATG and this makes a DNA sequence. This particular sequence i just wrote probably codes for nothing but you get the point.

DNA codes for mRNA which makes proteins. (very simplistic way of describing it but its not the main point of the article) Only certain sections of our DNA code, though make RNA, thus make proteins. And the rest of them some called “junk” DNA. Mainly the media to show how scientists don’t know a lot about DNA.

In reality, junk DNA has many functions and some argue that it is more important than coding DNA. It contains sequences that other proteins can identify and bind to, thus regulating protein synthesis. So if you want more of that piece of coding DNA making proteins, there is another non-coding section of DNA before it making sure the right amount is produced at the right time. And then there are genes that you only need at birth, that they need sequences around them making sure that they get expressed only then. And many more regulatory regions that make DNA a complex machine made of DNA, RNA and proteins all together maintaining you and all the living organisms on this planet.

It is certainly not junk, and many diseases are caused by it and as a result some drugs are also targeting regulatory elements. Protein regulation is as important as the protein itself.

There are also RNA pieces that don’t code for proteins. They could be called junk RNA i guess although i haven’t heard that yet. Those too, play a significant role in regulating gene expression and even signalling cells.

There are though sequences in the DNA that do nothing. But i wouldn’t call even them junk, since they are used by other elements like transposons. Those sequences are basically empty and are easily mutated. This helps organisms gain genes. It’s basically a tool of evolution. Transposable elements are those sequences that move around the genome causing more small mutations until one is beneficial enough to make an individual of a species survive and reproduce more frequently etc etc… and this is how evolution works. I would start explaining evolution but it’s a bit off topic. Maybe in the next post. Until then, make sure to follow Qul Mind for science news.

Image: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:DNA_Double_Helix.png

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s