Pseudogenes, or “false genes,” were initially thought to be mutated and useless genetic “junk” since they don’t code for proteins. When they were first discovered, evolutionists claimed they were leftovers of Darwinian evolution. But ongoing studies clearly show that the evolutionary interpretation was premature and even misleading.
With much more powerful tools for genetic investigation now available, researchers are discovering so many biological uses for pseudogenes that perhaps the majority of them are not false genes at all.1 One recent review even asked, “[Are they] pseudo-functional or key regulators in health and disease?”2
Biologists first assumed that pseudogenes are not translated into proteins because they lack some of the codes that signal such translation. And since pseudogenes were not translated into proteins, they supposedly had no function. Thus, they have “long been labeled as ‘junk’ DNA, failed copies of genes that arise during the evolution of genomes.”2
In a study published in the technical journal RNA, Oxford Brookes University biologists reviewed some of the newly discovered functions for pseudogenes. They wrote, “In some cases, what appears to be a nontranslated pseudogene can, in fact, code for truncated proteins.” Also, “evidence that some pseudogenes can exert regulatory effects on their protein coding cousins is mounting.”2
They reviewed studies where mutations in pseudogenes contributed to type 2 diabetes and certain cancers. If pseudogenes are not important, then why would their disruption cause disease? The researchers concluded that “the prevalent attitude that they are nonfunctional relics is slowly changing.”….2
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