Junk DNA: A Journey Through the Dark Matter of the Genome

Junk DNA: A Journey Through the Dark Matter of the Genome

by Nessa Carey
Junk DNA: A Journey Through the Dark Matter of the Genome

Junk DNA: A Journey Through the Dark Matter of the Genome

by Nessa Carey


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For decades after the identification of the structure of DNA, scientists focused only on genes, the regions of the genome that contain codes for the production of proteins. Other regions that make up 98 percent of the human genome were dismissed as "junk," sequences that serve no purpose. But researchers have recently discovered variations and modulations in this junk DNA that are involved with a number of intractable diseases. Our increasing knowledge of junk DNA has led to innovative research and treatment approaches that may finally ameliorate some of these conditions.

Junk DNA can play vital and unanticipated roles in the control of gene expression, from fine-tuning individual genes to switching off entire chromosomes. These functions have forced scientists to revisit the very meaning of the word "gene" and have engendered a spirited scientific battle over whether or not this genomic "nonsense" is the source of human biological complexity. Drawing on her experience with leading scientific investigators in Europe and North America, Nessa Carey provides a clear and compelling introduction to junk DNA and its critical involvement in phenomena as diverse as genetic diseases, viral infections, sex determination in mammals, and evolution. We are only now unlocking the secrets of junk DNA, and Nessa Carey's book is an essential resource for navigating the history and controversies of this fast-growing, hotly disputed field.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780231170857
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publication date: 06/20/2017
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 360
Sales rank: 1,160,188
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Nessa Carey is a visiting professor at Imperial College, London. She earned her Ph.D. in virology from the University of Edinburgh. Having worked in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries for more than a decade, she maintains strong relationships with leading researchers in Europe and across the United States, at such institutions as the Harvard Medical School, the University of Pennsylvania, the Wistar Institute, the MD Anderson Cancer Center, and the University of Southern California. Carey is also the author of The Epigenetics Revolution: How Modern Biology Is Rewriting Our Understanding of Genetics, Disease, and Inheritance.

Table of Contents

Notes on Nomenclature
An Introduction to Genomic Dark Matter
1. Why Dark Matter Matters
2. When Dark Matter Turns Very Dark Indeed
3. Where Did All the Genes Go?
4. Outstaying an Invitation
5. Everything Shrinks When We Get Old
6. Two Is the Perfect Number
7. Painting with Junk
8. Playing the Long Game
9. Adding Colour to the Dark Matter
10. Why Parents Love Junk
11. Junk with a Mission
12. Switching It On, Turning It Up
13. No Man's Land
14. Project ENCODE—Big Science Comes to Junk DNA
15. Headless Queens, Strange Cats, and Portly Mice
16. Lost in Untranslation
17. Why LEGO Is Better Than Airfix
18. Mini Can Be Mighty
19. The Drugs Do Work (Sometimes)
20. Some Light in the Darkness
Appendix: Human Diseases in Which Junk DNA Has Been Implicated
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