Wednesday, November 24, 2021
Role of 'Junk DNA' In Aging and Cancer
Researchers at Washington State University have recently identified a region of DNA known as VNTR2-1 that controls the activity of the telomerase gene. The telomerase gene controls the activity of an enzyme that is responsible for producing telomeres. In normal cells, the length of the telomeres get shorter after each division leading to aging and cell death. In certain cell types, such as reproductive cells and cancer cells, the telomerase gene ensures that the length of the telomere is not shortened. Jiyue Zhu and his team's latest finding of the VNTR2-1 region is notable because it is found in the region of DNA considered as 'junk DNA'. This DNA is usually considered as DNA with little purpose. Their findings support that this region is responsible for aging and cancer. The researchers deleted the DNA sequence in cancer cells causing the telomeres to shorten which led the cells to age and die. These findings show that the reason why we get cancer is more complicated than a mutation of an oncogene. The region of the DNA we used to believed served no purpose is a lot more complicated than we used to think.