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Function of ‘junk DNA’

February 28th, 2011 · No Comments

U. Iowa team investigates function of ‘junk DNA’ in human genesPart of the answer to how and why primates differ from other mammals, and humans differ from other primates, may lie in the repetitive stretches of the genome that were once considered “junk.”

A new study by researchers at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine finds that when a particular type of repetitive DNA segment, known as an Alu element, is inserted into existing genes, they can alter the rate at which proteins are produced — a mechanism that could contribute to the evolution of different biological characteristics in different species. The study was published in the Feb. 15 issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

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