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Old 16th December 2013, 4:48 PM   #1
Sankari Thread Starter
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Arrow Scientists discover second, secret DNA code

I don't know anything about DNA, but this sounds pretty impressive to me:

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While we all know DNA instructs our cells how to make proteins, scientists have now discovered a second DNA code that suggests the body uses the same alphabet to speak two different languages.

The findings in the journal Science may have big implications for how medical experts use the genomes of patients to interpret and diagnose diseases, say researchers.

The newfound genetic code within deoxyribonucleic acid, the hereditary material that exists in nearly every cell of the body, was written right on top of the DNA code scientists had already cracked.

Rather than concerning itself with proteins, this one instructs the cells on how genes are controlled.

Its discovery means DNA changes, or mutations that come with age or in response to viruses, may be doing more than what scientists previously thought, say the researchers.

"For over 40 years we have assumed that DNA changes affecting the genetic code solely impact how proteins are made," says lead author Dr John Stamatoyannopoulos, University of Washington associate professor of genome sciences and of medicine.

"Now we know that this basic assumption about reading the human genome missed half of the picture."

"Many DNA changes that appear to alter protein sequences may actually cause disease by disrupting gene control programs or even both mechanisms simultaneously."
(Source).

Last edited by Sankari; 16th December 2013 at 4:51 PM.
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Old 16th December 2013, 4:51 PM   #2
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How long to I have to go to Niversity before I become a cientist?
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Old 16th December 2013, 4:55 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Kommandant33 View Post
How long to I have to go to Niversity before I become a cientist?
It's a while, but not as long as you might hink.

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Old 17th December 2013, 1:30 PM   #4
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Title is absurdly misleading. (In fairness, so is the press release)

Both functions of DNA (codons and transcription factors) were already well known.

The "discovery" is that a sequence may simultaneously be a codon and a portion of a transcription factor, and they've named such sequences "duons".

In fact, evidence of transcription regulation within exons (coding regions of DNA) dates back to at least 2006

I'm not saying the paper is crap - there's an interestingly novel new methodology there. But the press release is dreadful.
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Old 17th December 2013, 1:36 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by theSeekerr View Post
Title is absurdly misleading. (In fairness, so is the press release)
.
Unfortunately, this is par for the course. University PR departments have incentives to over-hype things (if they make it onto the popular press, they get big pats on the back), and there aren't any journalists with the expertise to do more than regurgitate press releases.

At least the ABC article has a link to the Science paper. The commentary in Science here is probably useful for people not up to date on this stuff (like me, I haven't paid much attention to this stuff since 2010): http://www.sciencemag.org/content/342/6164/1325.full

Last edited by chip; 17th December 2013 at 1:41 PM.
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Old 17th December 2013, 6:32 PM   #6
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May I join the chorus bemoaning the PR that is generated to "sell" science

Epigenetics is definitely NOT a new 'code' or field of knowledge just discovered by this tool professor
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Old 17th December 2013, 6:42 PM   #7
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Epigenetics is definitely NOT a new 'code' or field of knowledge just discovered by this tool professor
I've always understood epigenetics to be methylation of DNA, histone modification, or RNA splicing. This is more or less dual-purpose regions in the DNA itself, which are only of interest after transcription's initiated, so isn't really epigenetic in the usual sense of that term.
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