Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Between the genes: Making sense of genomic 'dark matter'

Date:
May 19, 2010
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
Scientists have uncovered some of the secrets behind what molecular biologists call "dark matter" transcripts. The term "dark matter" refers to the genomic output that does not originate from known genes, arising instead from regions that were once thought of as nothing more than "junk DNA." When genetic signals, namely RNA transcripts, were discovered coming from these areas, many believed there was a whole new mystery to solve, and that much more was going on than originally expected.

A group of University of Toronto scientists have uncovered some of the secrets behind what molecular biologists call "dark matter" transcripts.

The findings are being published in the online, open access journal PLoS Biology.

The term "dark matter" refers to the genomic output that does not originate from known genes, arising instead from regions that were once thought of as nothing more than "junk DNA." When genetic signals, namely RNA transcripts, were discovered coming from these areas, many believed there was a whole new mystery to solve, and that much more was going on than originally expected.

However, a new study, led by Postdoctoral Fellow Harm van Bakel and Prof. Timothy Hughes from the Banting and Best Department of Medical Research and the Terrence Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research, indicates that most of these signals are likely to be by-products of signals from already known genes. Most of the other signals, the research indicates, are more consistent with background noise than meaningful signals.

Part of the mystery came from the methodology used. Many original reports of dark matter signals used "tiling microarrays," which these researchers determined was creating many false positives. By using a recently available method of sequencing very large numbers of transcripts, they were able to determine that unexplained dark matter only accounts for 2% of the total transcripts, much less than originally believed. Of that 2%, most are very close to known genes, indicating that they are likely to be part of the gene itself.

"The fact that most dark matter transcripts could be linked to known genes suggests that they are not signals emerging from a hidden universe within the genome," says van Bakel. "Though it is too early to exclude some functional role, the dark matter transcripts may primarily be by-products of normal gene expression."

"Given the size of the human genome, it's important to know where to focus our attention," says van Bakel. "Up until now, we had no way of knowing if we were missing out on some key biological information. This discovery allows us to zero in on what is really important."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. van Bakel H, Nislow C, Blencowe BJ, Hughes TR. Most 'Dark Matter' Transcripts Are Associated With Known Genes. PLoS Biology, 2010; 8 (5): e1000371 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1000371

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "Between the genes: Making sense of genomic 'dark matter'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 May 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100518180846.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2010, May 19). Between the genes: Making sense of genomic 'dark matter'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100518180846.htm
Public Library of Science. "Between the genes: Making sense of genomic 'dark matter'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100518180846.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is expected to send 3,000 troops to West Africa as part of the effort to contain Ebola's spread. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) A Texas man is lucky to be alive after he and three others floated for more than a day in the Gulf of Mexico when their boat sank during a fishing trip. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
EU Ministers and Experts Meet to Discuss Ebola Reponse

EU Ministers and Experts Meet to Discuss Ebola Reponse

AFP (Sep. 15, 2014) The European Commission met on Monday to coordinate aid that the EU can offer to African countries affected by the Ebola outbreak. Duration: 00:58 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Despite The Risks, Antibiotics Still Overprescribed For Kids

Despite The Risks, Antibiotics Still Overprescribed For Kids

Newsy (Sep. 15, 2014) A new study finds children are prescribed antibiotics twice as often as is necessary. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

      Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins