10  Pseudo genes

Menu  back

"Pseudo genes" (pseudo = lie) are structured like genes, look damaged and are mostly not used. For that reason, one saw in them the remnants of random evolution. With increasing research, it has, however, been demonstrated that several pseudo genes have important regulatory functions in genetic activity and embryonic development.

The discovery of a human retropseudogene (a disused gene, which came into existence as the result of an unsuccessful copying process) was a surprise (1). It is coded as an anti-tumour gene (an anti-cancer gene) that can recognise defence cells in the immune system (T cells).

Anti-tumour (tumour-suppressor) genes help the organism to destroy tumour cells. They demonstrate a varying degree of success. One important research objective is to increase their effectiveness in order to obtain therapeutic vaccines against cancer.

This realisation followed an earlier discovery of protein coding genes, which have the secondary capability of producing short segments of antigenic peptides.

Junk DNA and pseudo genes in the theory of evolution

Today junk DNA and pseudo genes are fully integrated in evolution theory. However, the expressions “junk” and “pseudo” are not justified.

These 11  |  Menu


(1) John Woodmorappe, The potential immunological function of pseudo genes and other “junk” DNA, Technical Journal 17/3, 2003, pages 102–108.

Comment this Site!