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Why are non-coding genes called "genes"

  1. Feb 16, 2017 #1
    I thought that a gene by definition is a unit of heredity, so a portion of DNA that doesnt code for anything wouldnt be a unit of heredity and therefore shouldnt really be called a gene, no? Also if current estimates for protein coding genes in human genome is about 20000, how many total genes are there in human genome?
    thanks for any help
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 16, 2017 #2

    BillTre

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    Genes don't have to code for any thing to be a gene.
    Gene is a term that has been used since before DNA was understood. It has been used to designate any inheritable trait.

    Non-coding control sequences can be found as mutations (and therefore considered a gene) even though they do not code for proteins or RNA transcripts.
    They could be binding sites for proteins which could control transcribing of a neighboring coding sequence.
     
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