Crop Biotech Update

Non-coding DNA Vital for Brain Development

January 31, 2018

The mystery of ‘dark matter" segments in genomes, or the long, winding strands of DNA with unknown functions, have finally been elucidated by researchers. The results are published in Cell.

Scientists have been puzzled why some DNA sequences do not encode proteins, but remain the same in different animals. When the researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University of California, and Joint Genome Institute deleted these ‘ultraconserved elements', they found out that these sequences are involved in brain development by fine-tuning the expression of protein-coding genes.

The research confirms the hypotheses of several experts that all ultraconserved elements are biologically important and their functions are still to be found out. The results of the study may help researchers to better understand neurological illnesses such as Alzheimer's disease.

Read the news release from Nature.