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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2009 Oct;1178:186-93. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.05004.x.

The fragmented gene.

Author information

  • Institute of Experimental Pathology (ZMBE), University of Münster, Münster, Germany. RNA.world@uni-muenster.de


While once almost synonymous, there is an increasing gap between the expanding definition of what constitutes a gene and the conservative and narrowly defined terms code or coding, which for a long time, almost exclusively constituted the open reading frame. Much confusion results from this disparity, especially in light of the plethora of noncoding RNAs (more correctly termed "non-protein-coding RNAs") that usually are encoded and transcribed by their own genes. A simple solution would be to adopt Ed Trifonov's less constrained definition of a code as any sequence pattern that can have a biological function. Such consideration favors not only a more complex view of the gene as an entity composed of many more or less conserved subgenic modules, but also a concept of modular evolution of genes and entire genomes.

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