Saturday, May 08, 2004
Genomics provides a ton of insight into our collective history, and will probably be the driving force in life science for some time to come. Which brings us to a very cool study recently published: discovery of 'ultra-conserved' regions in human, rat, mouse, chicken and dog genomes. When a stretch of DNA is conserved between divergent species, it means it's probably important. While we share most of our genes with other mammals (and non-mammals as well), things that are Exactly The Same are rare. What's especially fetching about this finding, to me, is that much of these ultra-conserved regions are non-coding: they don't have any visible function. Which supports the idea that this so-called 'Junk DNA' is anything but. I'm very excited for the knock-out mouse studies!