A pseudogene arises when a gene loses the ability to produce a protein, which can be due to mutation or inaccurate duplication. Previous dogma has dictated that because the pseudogene no longer produces a protein it becomes functionless and evolutionarily inert, being neither conserved nor removed. However, recent evidence has forced a re-evaluation of this view. Some pseudogenes, although not translated into protein, are at least transcribed into RNA. In some cases, these pseudogene transcripts are capable of influencing the activity of other genes that code for proteins, thereby altering expression and in turn affecting the phenotype of the organism. In the present chapter, we will define pseudogenes, describe the evidence that they are transcribed into non-coding RNAs and outline the mechanisms by which they are able to influence the machinery of the eukaryotic cell.

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