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More Jobs for “Junk” DNA

Photo credit: Rama, CC BY-SA 2.0 FR , via Wikimedia Commons.

It turns out the mouse endogenous retrovirus L (MERVL) is essential for embryogenesis, according to a recently published article in Nature Genetics. From the Discussion (emphasis added):

We provided functional evidence that transcriptional activation of MERVL is essential for progression of development in mouse preimplantation embryos. Depletion of MERVL transcripts results in embryonic lethality with profound defects in development and is associated with dysregulation of MERVL including their adjacent transcripts, and retaining two-cell-like transcriptome and chromatin state (Fig. 6i). These findings suggest the possibility that MERVL transcription in totipotent cells may act as a switch for the transition from totipotency to pluripotency and is responsible for the onset of differentiation and ontogeny.

For more, see “Transcription of MERVL retrotransposons is required for preimplantation embryo development” (open access).

Paul Nelson

Senior Fellow, Center for Science and Culture
Paul A. Nelson is currently a Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute and Adjunct Professor in the Master of Arts Program in Science & Religion at Biola University. He is a philosopher of biology who has been involved in the intelligent design debate internationally for three decades. His grandfather, Byron C. Nelson (1893-1972), a theologian and author, was an influential mid-20th century dissenter from Darwinian evolution. After Paul received his B.A. in philosophy with a minor in evolutionary biology from the University of Pittsburgh, he entered the University of Chicago, where he received his Ph.D. (1998) in the philosophy of biology and evolutionary theory.



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