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Junk DNA

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Junk DNA is an informal term used by scientists to describe portions of DNA called pseudogenes for which no biological function is yet discovered or known to be associated with. In such a context it is then labeled "junk" by evolutionary scientists and no longer applies as useful genetic code. Creationists as well as ID theorists agree that it is currently implausible to demonstrate whether or not a specific section of genetic code in a selected organism is truly non-functional and thus the term, "junk DNA" is at times no more than a misnomer. Creation and ID scientists have also demonstrated numerous times, actually fulfilling long-held predictions, that there are still very important applications of junk DNA segments thus making the evolutionist stance, on many occasions one from ignorance or lack of knowledge rather than substantial scientific research.[1]

According to evolutionists when an unused portion of genetic code is seen to have no known, current biological function it is considered a vestige or leftover from previous evolutionary advancement, there is no more need for this code since the organism is evolved beyond it. A more mainstream creationist and ID theorist approach is to see these pieces of unused DNA as previously once having vital importance and exhaustive research must be conducted to ensure there is still no current biological use associated with considered junk DNA. It is through a history of natural selection and mutational load parts of genetic code become unused and eventually taken out of the species gene pool, not because of advanced lifeforms emerging. What may currently fall under evolutionary presupposition of leftovers is rather, after the aforementioned history, merely the result of losing genetic expression. That is a view with which can be seen as entirely consistent with a creationism based model.

Contents

Purpose

  • A 2002 study from the University of Michigan showed that segments of junk DNA called LINE-1 elements, once thought to be "leftovers from the distant evolutionary past" now "deserve more respect" because they are capable of repairing broken strands of DNA. [1]
  • A 2003 study from Tel Aviv University found crucial uses for "junk" sequences in our DNA. [2]
  • A 2004 study from the Cell Press suggests that "more than one third of the mouse and human genomes, previously thought to be non-functional, may play some role in the regulation of gene expression and promotion of genetic diversity." [3]
  • An article from BioEd Online details DNA which appears crucial although no function has yet been discovered. [4]
  • A 2005 study from the National Institutes of Health found that social behavior in rodents (and, possibly humans [5]) was affected by portions of the genetic code once thought to be "junk." [6]
  • A 2005 study from University of California-San Diego suggested that junk DNA is "critically important to an organism’s evolutionary survival." [7]
  • Findings from Purdue University in 2005 stated that "many DNA sequences previously believed to have no function actually may play specialized roles in cell behavior." [8]
  • A 2006 study by the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine (Johns Hopkins) stated that "Junk DNA may not be so junky after all." [9]
  • Researchers at the University of Illinois Society for Experimental Biology found an antifreeze-protein gene in a species of fish which "evolved" from junk DNA. [10]
  • A mathematical analysis of the genetic code by IBM identified patterns that suggested junk DNA had an important role after all. [11]
  • In 2006, University of Iowa researchers documented segments of RNA (previously considered "junk") that regulated protein production, and could generate microRNAs. [12]
  • Research published in the Public Library of Biology declared that "Highly Conserved Non-Coding Sequences Are Associated with Vertebrate Development."[13]
  • Another Intelligent Design Prediction Fulfilled: Function for a Pseudogene [14]

Controversy

Some creationists believe that pseudogenes really are non-functioning genes. Michael E. Brown has put forward the idea that pseudogenes may be the result of a process that can cause large changes in DNA faster than mutation degradation. He argues that 6,000 - 10,000 years is not enough time for the normal mutation process to cause any significant changes to DNA. He points out that while reported interactions may be real functions that the pseudogenes have, they could also have happened spontaneously through random interactions. Dr. Brown has potential evidence supporting a process that would cause large changes in DNA within 6,000 years. However, the research is not complete[2].

References

  1. The Unseen Genome: Gems Among the Junk
  2. Pseudogene research
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