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Curr Opin Genet Dev. 2001 Dec;11(6):652-9.

What controls the length of noncoding DNA?

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  • Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Chicago, 1101 East 57th Street, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA. jcomeron@midway.uchicago.edu


Several recent studies of genome evolution indicate that the rate of DNA loss exceeds that of DNA gain, leading to an underlying mutational pressure towards collapsing the length of noncoding DNA. That such a collapse is not observed suggests opposing mechanisms favoring longer noncoding regions. The presence of transposable elements alone also does not explain observed features of noncoding DNA. At present, a multidisciplinary approach--using population genetics techniques, large-scale genomic analyses, and in silico evolution--is beginning to provide new and valuable insights into the forces that shape the length of noncoding DNA and, ultimately, genome size. Recombination, in a broad sense, might be the missing key parameter for understanding the observed variation in length of noncoding DNA in eukaryotes.

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