The central dogma of genetics could hardly be simpler: DNA makes RNA makes protein. Except that now this tidy picture of how genes work has been muddied by a mammoth investigation of human DNA.
It turns out that DNA generates far more RNA than the standard dogma predicts it should – even some “junk” DNA gets transcribed. The Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project has quantified RNA transcription patterns and found that while the “standard” RNA copy of a gene gets translated into a protein as expected, for each copy of a gene cells also make RNA copies of many other sections of DNA. None of the extra RNA fragments gets translated into proteins, so the race is on to discover just what their function is.
I’ll come back to this later… not had time to give it a good read.