The first results from a massive project to exhaustively catalogue all the functions of the human genome reveal a hotbed of activity in the gaps between genes.
[...] genes account for only 1.2 percent of the genome's three billion bases. Once dismissed as "junk DNA," researchers have found that some of these so-called noncoding regions are shared among mammals, suggesting they play an important function.
[...] the ENCODE findings confirm recent reports that humans and flies sometimes combine exons from two different genes.
[...] 5 percent of the studied sequence has been conserved among 23 mammals, suggesting that it plays an important enough role for evolution to preserve while species have evolved.
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