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Dark Matter: Overview

New technologies in genomic sciences offer opportunities to explore the content of genomes in ways never before possible.  While these advances have greatly improved our analytical power, we remain largely ignorant regarding vast portions of the genome that don’t encode protein products.  The extent of unannotated ‘non-coding’ transcription is not accurately known but the significant (and possibly immense) levels of activity already detected raise new questions that challenge concepts of genetic information and influence perceptions of the ‘junk DNA paradox’.   An important challenge that now confronts genome researchers is to find ways that move beyond descriptive studies of ‘genomic dark matter’ and determine how ‘noncanonical’ RNAs might encode meaningful content.