Junk DNA: A Journey Through the Dark Matter of the Genome

Hardcover | April 14, 2015

byNessa Carey

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For decades after the identification of the structure of DNA, scientists focused only on genes, the regions of the genome that contain codes for the production of proteins. Other regions that make up 98 percent of the human genome were dismissed as "junk," sequences that serve no purpose. But researchers have recently discovered variations and modulations in this junk DNA that are involved with a number of intractable diseases. Our increasing knowledge of junk DNA has led to innovative research and treatment approaches that may finally ameliorate some of these conditions.

Junk DNA can play vital and unanticipated roles in the control of gene expression, from fine-tuning individual genes to switching off entire chromosomes. These functions have forced scientists to revisit the very meaning of the word "gene" and have engendered a spirited scientific battle over whether or not this genomic "nonsense" is the source of human biological complexity. Drawing on her experience with leading scientific investigators in Europe and North America, Nessa Carey provides a clear and compelling introduction to junk DNA and its critical involvement in phenomena as diverse as genetic diseases, viral infections, sex determination in mammals, and evolution. We are only now unlocking the secrets of junk DNA, and Nessa Carey's book is an essential resource for navigating the history and controversies of this fast-growing, hotly disputed field.

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From the Publisher

For decades after the identification of the structure of DNA, scientists focused only on genes, the regions of the genome that contain codes for the production of proteins. Other regions that make up 98 percent of the human genome were dismissed as "junk," sequences that serve no purpose. But researchers have recently discovered varia...

Nessa Carey is a visiting professor at Imperial College, London. She earned her Ph.D. in virology from the University of Edinburgh. Having worked in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries for more than a decade, she maintains strong relationships with leading researchers in Europe and across the United States, at such institutions ...

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Paperback|Oct 1 2013

$17.53 online$25.00list price(save 29%)
Format:HardcoverDimensions:360 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.98 inPublished:April 14, 2015Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:023117084X

ISBN - 13:9780231170840

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsNotes on NomenclatureAn Introduction to Genomic Dark Matter1. Why Dark Matter Matters2. When Dark Matter Turns Very Dark Indeed3. Where Did All the Genes Go?4. Outstaying an Invitation5. Everything Shrinks When We Get Old6. Two Is the Perfect Number7. Painting with Junk8. Playing the Long Game9. Adding Colour to the Dark Matter10. Why Parents Love Junk11. Junk with a Mission12. Switching It On, Turning It Up13. No Man's Land14. Project ENCODE-Big Science Comes to Junk DNA15. Headless Queens, Strange Cats, and Portly Mice16. Lost in Untranslation17. Why LEGO Is Better Than Airfix18. Mini Can Be Mighty19. The Drugs Do Work (Sometimes)20. Some Light in the DarknessNotesAppendix: Human Diseases in Which Junk DNA Has Been ImplicatedIndex

Editorial Reviews

Engaging, informative, and humorous, Nessa Carey's Junk DNA will be of interest to many readers.



Combines an easy style with a textbook's thoroughness.