Transcriptome analyses have revealed that a large proportion of the human genome is transcribed. However, many of these transcripts might be functionless. To distinguish functional transcription units (FTUs) from spurious transcripts, we searched for the hallmarks of selective pressure against mutations that impair transcription. We analyzed the distribution of transposable elements, which are counterselected within FTUs. We show that these features are sufficiently informative to predict whether a sequence is transcribed and, if transcribed, in which orientation. Our results indicate that FTUs constitute at least 50% of the genome and that approximately one-third of these transcripts apparently do not encode proteins.
PMID: 15109775 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]