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‘Dark DNA’ Is the Latest Mystery in the World of Genetics, But What Is It?

cientists are beginning to understand mysterious parts of our DNA. Here’s what they’ve found so far.
Dark DNA
Dark matter is one amongst the largest mysteries of physical science nowadays. There’s tons of evidence that it’s there, but try as we might we haven’t been able to find it. In biology, there’s a similar problem: dark DNA. When scientists were exploring the sequenced genomes of certain birds and rodents they noticed something odd.

A sequenced genome means everything is laid bare, and yet certain DNA sequences were missing, which was weird because these DNA sequences were very important. They controlled the production of leptin in the birds or the secretion of insulin in the rodents, genes that the scientists knew had to be there, otherwise, they’d have some mighty obese birds and dead rodents on their hands.

What’s more, the scientists studying the rodents found the products of the missing DNA sequences in their cells, so they deduced that the genes weren’t missing, but were somehow hidden. They dubbed these elusive sequences “dark desoxyribonucleic acid.” Sounds spooky, however, the fact is that this dark desoxyribonucleic acid could also be additional of a blind spot in our desoxyribonucleic acid sequencing technology than anything.

A closer look at the rodent’s genome found a heavily mutated section with abnormally high amounts of guanine and cytosine, two of DNA’s four base molecules, called G and C for short. 
It seems rate wealthy sequences square measure troublesome to observe, therefore the researchers uncomprehensible this mutated pocket of DNA initially.
This dark DNA raises questions about how quickly mutations occur, and what genes we may have missed when we sequenced other genomes like our own Which is crazy to think that there could be more DNA in us than we realized, especially when you consider that we only know what about 1 to 2% of the stuff we have found does. Those sections code proteins that have some function.

The other 98%-ish doesn’t make anything and so we don’t know why it’s there. This vast amount of genetic code has also been referred to as DNA’s “dark matter.” Apparently, biologists love the dark matter analogy, only the kind we’re talking about now is the opposite of the first example. Instead of knowing what a gene does but not finding it, we’ve found a lot of genes but have no idea what they do. Slowly though we’re chipping away at that riddle too.

It appears that a lot of this non-coding DNA is still helpful for regulating gene expression, making sure the right cells have the right hardware, like hemoglobin in blood cell precursors and ion channels in neurons. Some of these sequences are almost identical across different species like humans, mice, and chickens. Considering we’ve been evolving separately for up to 200 million years, researchers concluded that these sequences must somehow be vital to our survival.

When researchers deleted four of these genes in mice, they found abnormalities in the mice’s brains and wondered if mutations in these overlooked non-coding sections of DNA could be responsible for brain diseases like Alzheimer's. So there is a lot of DNA to parse through and there could be even more we just haven’t found because of limitations in our sequencing techniques.

Our genome is still a pretty dark and mysterious place, and more research is needed.

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