Australian Science in Public website carries this media release on, “How ‘junk DNA’ can control cell development,” published August 1st, 2013.
From the release:
Researchers from the Gene and Stem Cell Therapy Program at Sydney’s Centenary Institute have confirmed that, far from being “junk”, the 97 per cent of human DNA that does not encode instructions for making proteins can play a significant role in controlling cell development.
And in doing so, the researchers have unravelled a previously unknown mechanism for regulating the activity of genes, increasing our understanding of the way cells develop and opening the way to new possibilities for therapy.
Using the latest gene sequencing techniques and sophisticated computer analysis, a research group led by Professor John Rasko AO and including Centenary’s Head of Bioinformatics, Dr William Ritchie, has shown how particular white blood cells use non-coding DNA to regulate the activity of a group of genes that determines their shape and function. The work is published today in the scientific journal Cell.
“This discovery, involving what was previously referred to as “junk”, opens up a new level of gene expression control that could also play a role in the development of many other tissue types,” Rasko says. “Our observations were quite surprising and they open entirely new avenues for potential treatments in diverse diseases including cancers and leukaemias.”
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