Junk DNA

A Journey Through the Dark Matter of the Genome

Nessa Carey

Columbia University Press

Junk DNA

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Pub Date: June 2017

ISBN: 9780231170857

360 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $22.95

Pub Date: April 2015

ISBN: 9780231170840

360 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $29.95

Pub Date: April 2015

ISBN: 9780231539418

360 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $28.99

Junk DNA

A Journey Through the Dark Matter of the Genome

Nessa Carey

Columbia University Press

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.
Engaging, informative, and humorous, Nessa Carey's Junk DNA will be of interest to many readers. Sharon Y. R. Dent, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Carey makes two points very clearly: that our understanding is tentative and evolving, and that chromosomal functioning is far more intricate than anyone ever hypothesized. Publisher's Weekly
Junk DNA provides a cutting-edge, exhaustive guide to the rapidly changing, ever-more mysterious genome. Linda Geddes, New Scientist
[Junk DNA], which is frequently humorous and well documented, does a fine job of explaining a complex subject for lay readers who are willing to put in some effort. Library Journal
Carey's enthusiasm for her subject is infectious.... An excellent introduction to a subject that we are certain to be hearing a lot more about in the near future. Mark Diston, The Register
Junk DNA serves as a nice primer. The Scientist
The first popular overview of this field.... [Carey] has an excellent grasp of the history of junk DNA and its implications for both basic and applied science. She has a gift for analogies and converts complex biochemistry into imagery that brings it to a level nonspecialists can grasp. Elof Axel Carlson, The Quarterly Review of Biology
Acknowledgments
Notes on Nomenclature
An Introduction to Genomic Dark Matter
1. Why Dark Matter Matters
2. When Dark Matter Turns Very Dark Indeed
3. Where Did All the Genes Go?
4. Outstaying an Invitation
5. Everything Shrinks When We Get Old
6. Two Is the Perfect Number
7. Painting with Junk
8. Playing the Long Game
9. Adding Colour to the Dark Matter
10. Why Parents Love Junk
11. Junk with a Mission
12. Switching It On, Turning It Up
13. No Man's Land
14. Project ENCODE—Big Science Comes to Junk DNA
15. Headless Queens, Strange Cats, and Portly Mice
16. Lost in Untranslation
17. Why LEGO Is Better Than Airfix
18. Mini Can Be Mighty
19. The Drugs Do Work (Sometimes)
20. Some Light in the Darkness
Notes
Appendix: Human Diseases in Which Junk DNA Has Been Implicated
Index

Read the chapter "Why Dark Matter Matters":

About the Author

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 as the Harvard Medical School, the University of Pennsylvania, the Wistar Institute, the MD Anderson Cancer Center, and the University of Southern California. Carey is also the author of The Epigenetics Revolution: How Modern Biology Is Rewriting Our Understanding of Genetics, Disease, and Inheritance.