SEP 22, 2018 2:12 PM PDT

How Much of the Human Genome is Just Junk DNA?

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

The human genome is made up of individual nucleotide bases, symbolized by the letters A, T, G, and C. 23 chromosome pairs contain 3.2 billion or so base pairs and within that sequence lie around 20,000 genes. Most genes are instructions for making a protein; some are regulatory (as explained in the video). But there is a lot of other stuff aside from protein-coding genes in the human genome because genes only comprise about one percent of the genome. So what’s up with the other 99 percent?

When genetics research was in its early years, all that extra genetic material was written off; it earned the name junk DNA. Over the years, some studies have found that portions of that so-called junk actually contains sequences that help control gene expression. Some portions of the genome are leftovers from ancient viral infections or gene duplications. There is debate about how much of the genome is functional, and what the term ‘functional’ even means in the context of the genome.  Before we settle on a final answer, there will probably be many more years of research.

About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on over 30 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 70 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
NOV 05, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
No, Gravity Doesn't Affect How Bubbles Collapse
NOV 05, 2020
No, Gravity Doesn't Affect How Bubbles Collapse
The ubiquitous presence of bubbles makes them a common phenomenon, but interestingly our understanding of this globular ...
DEC 03, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
3-D Printed, Realistic Heart Model for Training Future Physicians
DEC 03, 2020
3-D Printed, Realistic Heart Model for Training Future Physicians
Building a realistic tissue model is critical for training young physicians and surgeons, and yet challenging due to the ...
MAR 26, 2021
Plants & Animals
A Massive 17-Year Cicada Swarm will Emerge Soon
MAR 26, 2021
A Massive 17-Year Cicada Swarm will Emerge Soon
The east coast is preparing for one of nature’s greatest spectacles. A gigantic swarm of periodical cicadas is due ...
JUN 04, 2021
Plants & Animals
What Elephant Trunks Teach Science about Suction
JUN 04, 2021
What Elephant Trunks Teach Science about Suction
How an elephant picks up a tortilla chip could inspire next-generation suction technology.
JUN 22, 2021
Cannabis Sciences
Report Finds Most First-Time Cannabis Users are Women
JUN 22, 2021
Report Finds Most First-Time Cannabis Users are Women
Chicago-based cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabis-focused market research organization, Brightfield Group, has published a ne ...
JUL 23, 2021
Neuroscience
Does the Rise of Neurotech Spell the End of Humanity as We Know it?
JUL 23, 2021
Does the Rise of Neurotech Spell the End of Humanity as We Know it?
Researchers from Imperial College London have written an overview of currently available commercial brain-computer inter ...
Loading Comments...