"DNA Structure Key Labelled" by Zephyris / CC BY-SA 3.0

Cryptic DNA sequences may help cells survive starvation

Jan 17, 2019

By Michael Marshall

Patches of seemingly meaningless DNA dotted throughout the genome might actually have a function: helping cells to survive starvation.

Two studies published in Nature on 16 January suggest that these stretches of non-coding DNA called introns help to control the rate at which cells grow, conserving energy when food becomes scarce.

Genes carry the information needed to make proteins. But many genes contain introns: sequences of non-coding DNA, the vast majority of which don’t appear to do anything.

Some researchers suspected introns did more than meets the eye.

In one of the latest studies1, Sherif Abou Elela, a microbiologist at the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec, Canada, and his colleagues examined baker’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae), whose DNA has 295 introns. They spent ten years meticulously creating hundreds of yeast strains, each missing just one of its introns.

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One comment on “Cryptic DNA sequences may help cells survive starvation”

  • is this like “junk” dna?

    which is just beginning to be understood as our hidden history?

    our ancestral book of life?


    Now, in a series of papers published in September in Nature (Scientific American is part of Nature Publishing Group) and elsewhere, the ENCODE group has produced a stunning inventory of previously hidden switches, signals and sign posts embedded like runes throughout the entire length of human DNA. In the process, the ENCODE project is reinventing the vocabulary with which biologists study, discuss and understand human inheritance and disease.

    from this sci am article

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