Sunday, January 13, 2008

How Much Junk in the Human Genome?

Ryan Gregory has another contribution to this question that's well worth a read [Is most of the human genome functional?].

Among other things, Ryan picks on the views of John Mattick who has got to be one of the worst scientists in the field. Whenever I read a paper by Mattick I revise my opinion of the value of peer-reviewed literature. It's bad enough that Mattick has silly ideas but it's even sadder that his "peer" reviewers don't recognize it.

Here's a quote from Mattick that I discussed in my article on the The Central Dogma of Molecular Biology. It's obvious that he doesn't understand the real meaning of the central dogma. Can you pick out the other conceptual flaws in this paragraph? [Hints: Worst Figure Ever and Dog Ass Plots.]
The central dogma of biology holds that genetic information normally flows from DNA to RNA to protein. As a consequence it has been generally assumed that genes generally code for proteins, and that proteins fulfil not only most structural and catalytic but also most regulatory functions, in all cells, from microbes to mammals. However, the latter may not be the case in complex organisms. A number of startling observations about the extent of non-protein coding RNA (ncRNA) transcription in the higher eukaryotes and the range of genetic and epigenetic phenomena that are RNA-directed suggests that the traditional view of genetic regulatory systems in animals and plants may be incorrect.

Mattick, J.S. (2003) Challenging the dogma: the hidden layer of non-protein-coding RNAs in complex organisms. BioEssays 25:930-939.


  1. Just a clean-up comment to note that the link in this post to your earlier "Central Dogma" post isn't working.