There’s more function in the “junk” than imagined. Caltech finds a significant role: maintaining territories and compartments, and guiding components.
Since project ENCODE provoked outrage among evolutionary biologists over a decade ago, there has been a concerted campaign to defend the notion of junk DNA.
Purported examples of poor design usually represent opinions resulting from armchair critics’ limited understanding of the technical literature.
The ENCODE project, now in its 17th year, ended its third phase with a new record of annotated elements in human and mouse genomes. Phase 4 is coming.
Perhaps one of ENCODE’s staunchest critics has been Dan Graur, a molecular evolutionary biologist at the University of Houston.