SEP 22, 2018 02:12 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 28 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 60 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
NOV 12, 2018
Plants & Animals
NOV 12, 2018
Steaks Aren't the Only Things We Get From Cows
It’s no secret that cows are routinely slaughtered for beef, but what if we told you that only about 60% of the cow gets harvested for food? Fret not...
NOV 15, 2018
Videos
NOV 15, 2018
A Season of Outbreaks
In a few different places around the world, people are facing disease outbreaks due to pathogenic microbes....
NOV 23, 2018
Videos
NOV 23, 2018
Authorities Enlist DNA Experts to ID Camp Fire Victims
Paradise, California, a town of 26,682 residents, was destroyed by the Camp Fire earlier this month....
NOV 25, 2018
Videos
NOV 25, 2018
Ongoing Ebola Outbreak in DRC Becomes Country's Worst Ever
On August 1, 2018, an Ebola outbreak was declared in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is still ongoing....
DEC 09, 2018
Cardiology
DEC 09, 2018
Discharge After Angioplasty Safe, Reduces Cost
Of the 600,000 coronary angioplasties performed in the United States each year, about half of them are elective procedures. A person may opt to undergo the...
DEC 12, 2018
Chemistry & Physics
DEC 12, 2018
Tooth-rejuvenating Hydrogels as Alternative to Root Canal Therapy
When the tooth's pulp has a baterial infection, the sensitive nerve endings can become painfully inflamed. Root canal therapy, also known as the endodo...
Loading Comments...