Here is a guest post that Dan Graur didn’t write:

Dear ENCODE researchers,

First of all, allow me to congratulate you on delivering such a large and complex project.  The results of your research will benefit many 100s of scientists throughout the world, and the resources generated are invaluable.

However, I have to disagree with the headline figure that 80% of the genome is functional.  This contradicts much of the research in this area, and I feel you have used an incorrect definition of the term “functional”.

Specifically:

  1. Transcription does not equal function
  2. Histone modification does not equal function
  3. Open chromatin does not equal function
  4. Transcription-factor binding does not equal function
  5. DNA-methylation does not equal function

It is unfortunate that the headline figure of 80% functionality has taken away much focus from the success of the project.  It is also unfortunate how many journalists treated this particular piece of information.

However, I do appreciate that science, like many other disciplines, requires, and benefits from, people with opposing views.  Your view of functionality certainly opposes mine; however, at the very least, what you have achieved is to stimulate debate on the topic, which is of benefit to everyone

Regards

Not Dan Graur

DISCLAIMER: Dan Graur has nothing to do with the above post.  I have written this in response to Dan’s paper here, the tone of which I feel is of no benefit to anyone, and which sets a bad example to young scientists.