[LINK] "Junk" DNA revealed as information processing system?

by EphemeralNight1 min read18th Sep 20126 comments


Personal Blog


Just a few years ago, the prevailing wisdom said that the genome comprises 3 percent or so genes and 97 percent “junk” (with 2 or 3 percent of that junk consisting of the fossilized remains of retroviruses that infected our ancestors somewhere along the line). After a decade of painstaking analysis by more than 200 scientists, the new ENCODE data show that indeed 2.94 percent of the genome is protein-coding genes, while 80.4 percent of sequences regulate how those genes get turned on, turned off, expressed, processed, and modified.

This fundamentally changes how most biologists understand the master instruction set of life: we are, in short, 3 percent  input/output and 80 percent logic. (Though perhaps a surprise to biologists, the finding will hardly astound anyone who has designed a complex interactive system.)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but this is a really big deal, right?