The Inner Life of Cells
Sepkowitz, Kent, Newsweek
Byline: Kent Sepkowitz
DNA's middle managers could be the key to future cures.
Scientists made a splash last week when they presented a radical new view of DNA, solving a puzzle that has long gnawed at investigators and shedding light on diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer's. Ever since decoding the human genome, scientists have been perplexed by the long strands of our DNA that appear to do nothing. They called the idle double helixes "junk DNA," thinking they were nothing but leftovers from ill-fitting assembly parts, useless bits of this and that, last season's models.
The days of junk status are now officially over. Working for almost 10 years on a collaborative project called Encode (Encyclopedia of DNA Elements), 440 scientists from 32 labs across the globe announced that they have finally figured out just what the silent majority of our DNA does: it's middle management.
It seems these large branches of the DNA family tree--formerly called "junk" but now fitted with the tony moniker "dark matter"--run the factory but don't actually make anything. They're the deciders, the guys with administrative approval to greenlight a project or stop it cold--in this case to determine which genes step forward to produce a protein and which ones remain stalled, waiting for that second chance. And with a million supervisors for …
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: The Inner Life of Cells. Contributors: Sepkowitz, Kent - Author. Magazine title: Newsweek. Volume: 160. Issue: 12 Publication date: September 17, 2012. Page number: 8. © 2009 Newsweek, Inc. All rights reserved. Any reuse, distribution or alteration without express written permission of Newsweek is prohibited. For permission: www.newsweek.com. COPYRIGHT 2012 Gale Group.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.