Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Junk DNA? Or Does It Reveal The Source Of Our Mind & Intelligence?

DNA Brain 

Have you thought deeply about the latest discovery in genetics? DUF1220 – “DUF” stands for a (protein) domain of unknown function –presumably “junk DNA.” But this one seems to be what distinguishes us as “human” and may correspond to greater brain functionality.

In fact, we possess more than twice the amount of replications (copies) of this protein as a result of the instructions (code) of our genome than our nearest genetic relative –the chimp. It seems to be clearly related to the growth of certain parts of the brain –and presumably to more sophisticated neural networks.

According to Wikipedia:
“DUF1220 is a protein domain of unknown function that shows a striking human lineage-specific (HLS) increase in copy number and may be important to human brain evolution.[1] The copy number of DUF1220 domains increases generally as a function of a species evolutionary proximity to humans. DUF1220 copy number is highest in human (over 270, with some person-to-person variations).[2] and shows the largest HLS increase in copy number (an additional 160 copies) of any protein coding region in the human genome. DUF1220 copy number is reduced in African great apes (estimated 125 copies in chimpanzees), further reduced in orangutan (92) and Old World monkeys (35), single- or low-copy in non-primate mammals and absent in non-mammals.”
“Unknown function” may be another way of saying “junk DNA” –DNA that is unaccounted for so that current science disregards it but clearly if this is the “Software code” that distinguishes us from other primates in terms of intelligence –it is no Junk.

Wikipedia continues with this nugget:
“DUF1220 domains are approximately 65 amino acids in length and are encoded by a two-exon doublet. In the human genome DUF1220 sequences are located primarily on chromosome 1 in region 1q21.1-q21.2, with several copies also found at 1p36, 1p13.3, and 1p12. Sequences encoding DUF1220 domains show signs of positive selection, especially in primates, and are expressed in several human tissues including the brain, where their expression is restricted to neurons.”
What this seems to mean is that we have identified specific areas of our DNA code (regions of specific chromosomes) that will express growth of higher brain functions.  Since we are at the threshold of being able to write our own DNA code, this has immense implications for our future as a species.

For the rest of the story:

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