Scientists have discovered that biological dark matter, previously thought to have no function, is vital for reproduction. The study revealed that the protein-free genome region is important for male and female reproductive organs.
Scientists from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OSIT) revealed that ‘biological dark matter’, which was previously thought to have no function, has an important function. This dark substance, also known as protein-free DNA sequences, has been shown to play a vital role in proliferation. It was discovered that this biological dark substance is very important in the proper development of the reproductive organs in the male and female of rice.
The lead author of the research, Dr. Recalling that rice is one of the most important agricultural products in the world and is consumed as a staple food in some countries, Reina Komiya points out that it is important to see that research on how these genomic regions affect the reproduction of plants can potentially lead to increased production and more stable rice productivity.
Biological dark matter was not previously focused on:
Many previous studies focused on genes. These genes are known as DNA segments that command commands for protein production. However, in complex creatures such as plants and animals, a large part of the genome (about 90% to 98%) is not encoded for protein production. The size of this ‘non-coding DNA’ has been confusing biologists for a long time.
Most biologists call this part of DNA the ‘dark matter’ of the genome. Recent research assumes that most of these protein-encoding genomic regions may have a function, leading to the emergence of protein-free RNA.
Scientists have identified RNA that does not produce various types of protein. These can range from small molecules with a length of 20-30 nucleotides to lengthy molecules extending up to 200 nucleotides. While studies show that RNAs that do not produce protein play a vital role in regulating gene expression, the exact function of RNA, which does not produce any specific protein, remained unclear.
The research focused on micro RNA called microRNA2118, which does not produce a protein that focuses on proliferation. The researchers created a strain of rice by deleting a genome region containing a large number of copies of a specific DNA sequence that caused the formation of microRNA2118.
As a result, it has been discovered that this species is infertile and there are abnormalities in the structure of the male organ and the female organ. Thus microRNA2118; It was understood that it was vital in the proper development of the male and female body. It was observed that microRNA2118 triggered the cleavage of a long protein-free RNA sequence and produced a large number of small RNA molecules. Scientists hope to reveal the true function of these second RNAs in later research.