Ultraconserved regions of DNA–we still have a lot to learn
In the news two days ago on Yahoo I read the following article: Mysterious DNA Found to Survive Eons of Evolution. Basically, scientists have discovered segments of DNA that have survived long periods of evolution though they seem to have no apparent purpose. The sequences in question are not non-coding or “junk” DNA.
Since these segments haven’t been lost as a result of natural selection, one would assume they give some important advantage. However, mice were bred to lack these sections of DNA, and they appeared to be healthy.
The article goes on to discuss potential answers to the puzzle, such as the possibility that these strands code for multiple layers of information or that they might protect against diseases that only rarely strike.
What leaves me in awe is the fact that despite learning so much over the past few hundred years–and especially the past 60 or so–we still have so much yet to learn! This article goes to show that science is certainly not stagnant. Science doesn’t have all the answers about how the natural world works…though it’s still working on it! 🙂