Genome may be mostly junk after all

Cross-species comparison suggests most human DNA has no known function

2:57pm, November 4, 2010

WASHINGTON — Most of the human genome may actually be junk.

Scientists had recently stopped dissing the part of the genome that doesn’t produce proteins. But a new study comparing the human genetic blueprints to those of other mammals concludes that very little of the human genome is really necessary.

About 7 percent of the human genome is similar to the DNA of other mammals, said Arend Sidow of Stanford University. Because it is similar, or “conserved,” geneticists assume this DNA is the most integral. In all, Sidow concludes, these important parts of the genome comprise only 225 million of the 3 billion chemical letters of DNA found in the complete human genetic instruction book.

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