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Open Access Highly Accessed Editorial

The noncoding universe

Kester Jarvis and Miranda Robertson

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BMC Biology, BioMed Central Ltd, Floor 6, 236 Gray's Inn Road, London, WC1X 8HB, UK

Citation and License

BMC Biology 2011, 9:52  doi:10.1186/1741-7007-9-52

Published: 28 July 2011

First paragraph (this article has no abstract)

The 'dark matter' of cosmologists has little in common with the so-called dark matter of the genome other, it would seem, than the controversy that surrounds both. Whereas cosmological dark matter was inferred from gravitational effects that cannot be explained by known bodies in the universe, genomic dark matter emerged from the application of post-genomic technology to the analysis of the transcriptome, and could not have been inferred from any known biological principle. In biology, the term is (somewhat romantically) applied to the surprisingly extensive transcription of RNA from regions of the genome which do not code for proteins; and whereas there is still no firm evidence that cosmological dark matter exists, never mind any evidence on what it is, the existence of noncoding RNA is not in dispute. The question is how much there is of it, and what it means.