A gene is a molecular unit of heredity of a living organism. It is a name given to some stretches of DNA and RNA that code for a type of protein or for an RNA chain that has a function in the organism. Living beings depend on genes, as they specify all proteins and functional RNA chains...
s that have lost their protein
Proteins are biochemical compounds consisting of one or more polypeptides typically folded into a globular or fibrous form, facilitating a biological function. A polypeptide is a single linear polymer chain of amino acids bonded together by peptide bonds between the carboxyl and amino groups of...
-coding ability or are otherwise no longer expressed
Gene expression is the process by which information from a gene is used in the synthesis of a functional gene product. These products are often proteins, but in non-protein coding genes such as ribosomal RNA , transfer RNA or small nuclear RNA genes, the product is a functional RNA...
in the cell. Although some do not have intron
An intron is any nucleotide sequence within a gene that is removed by RNA splicing to generate the final mature RNA product of a gene. The term intron refers to both the DNA sequence within a gene, and the corresponding sequence in RNA transcripts. Sequences that are joined together in the final...
s or promoters (these pseudogenes are copied from mRNA and incorporated into the chromosome and are called processed pseudogenes), most have some gene-like features (such as promoters, CpG island
In genetics, CpG islands or CG islands are genomic regions that contain a high frequency of CpG sites but to date objective definitions for CpG islands are limited. In mammalian genomes, CpG islands are typically 300-3,000 base pairs in length. They are in and near approximately 40% of promoters of...
s, and splice sites
In molecular biology and genetics, splicing is a modification of an RNA after transcription, in which introns are removed and exons are joined. This is needed for the typical eukaryotic messenger RNA before it can be used to produce a correct protein through translation...
), they are nonetheless considered nonfunctional
A function is part of an answer to a question about why some object or process occurred in a system that evolved through a process of selection. Thus, function refers forward from the object or process, along some chain of causation, to the goal or success...
, due to their lack of protein-coding ability resulting from various genetic disablements (premature stop codon
In the genetic code, a stop codon is a nucleotide triplet within messenger RNA that signals a termination of translation. Proteins are based on polypeptides, which are unique sequences of amino acids. Most codons in messenger RNA correspond to the addition of an amino acid to a growing polypeptide...
s, frameshifts, or a lack of transcription
Transcription is the process of creating a complementary RNA copy of a sequence of DNA. Both RNA and DNA are nucleic acids, which use base pairs of nucleotides as a complementary language that can be converted back and forth from DNA to RNA by the action of the correct enzymes...
) or their inability to encode RNA (such as with rRNA pseudogenes).