Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Non Genetic Protein Translation Mechanism Adds More Complexity to Cellular Adaptation

Biology's sophisticated adaptation machine has now been discovered to be even more sophisticated. In recent years the types of adaptation often claimed to be examples of evolution in action have been found to be driven by complex mechanisms that respond to environmental pressures. It was yet another falsification of evolutionary expectations. Organisms responded far more quickly than neo Darwinism predicted, and this was because the responses were not the result of evolution's blind variation, but rather of directed mechanisms. Gene regulation and even gene modification mechanisms have been discovered which not only implement helpful adaptations, but they implement adaptations that are heritable.

Now we can add another chapter to the adaptation story. New research has found that proteins are modified as they are being constructed to help them fend off a virus, bacteria or toxic chemical. Proteins are constructed by glueing amino acids together in a string. The type of amino acid to use at each position is specified by a gene, as interpreted according to the DNA code.

The new research found that during this construction stage proteins may be modified if the cell is under stress. Specifically, the amino acid methionine is used at certain points in the sequence of amino acids even though it is not called for. Methionine can help provide protective armor due to the sulfur atom it carries in its side chain. It seems that some mechanism is intentionally inserting methionine in spite of what the genetic blueprint for the protein says. As was reported this week:

These "regulated errors" comprise a novel non-genetic mechanism by which cells can rapidly make important proteins more resistant to attack when stressed.

It is yet another finding that not only was not expected by evolution, but is difficult for evolution to explain with anything more than just-so stories.

12 comments:

  1. I can't speak to evolution's explanation of this finding. But I'm intersted in intelligent design's explanation thereof, and how it compares with the evolutionary explanation.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wait a second, I'm not sure I understand your point. Are you saying that any new discovery in biology is a disproof of evolution?

    Doesn't that put you in the position of someone who says heliocentrism is wrong because we discovered Uranus?

    Doesn't that put you in the position of someone who says Germ Theory is wrong because we found prions?

    Doesn't that put you in the position of someone who says the Theory of Gravity is wrong you saw a helium-filled toy balloon?

    Duke

    ReplyDelete
  3. I agree. Every increase in complexity of the cell dsecreases the probability that it could have arisen by random chance.

    As an expert in biology you should be able to answer my question. I heard Dawkin's say that evolution is not based on random chance and that was a popular misconception. I understand the the definition of evolution can change to to mean anything as long as it involves a natural cause. The queston is: what is the cause of evolution from the view of the concensous of evolutionary scientists?

    ReplyDelete
  4. I agree. Every increase in complexity of the cell dsecreases the probability that it could have arisen by random chance.

    Really? A completely random string is the most complex, in the information theory sense, in that it is the least compressible. What definition of "complexity" are you using when you make that statement?

    I heard Dawkin's say that evolution is not based on random chance and that was a popular misconception.

    I think you misunderstood what Dr. Dawkins said, although since you didn't provide a reference or even specific quotes, it's tough to be sure. He may have been speaking of the standard creationist straw man, an assumption that evolution means fully-formed creatures came together at random from separate atoms. This is ridiculous, and you are right to reject it. It's equally true that no scientists has ever believed that.

    I understand the the definition of evolution can change to to mean anything as long as it involves a natural cause.

    Nice! It seems to me, that with an attitude like that, you've successfully isolated yourself from the actual study of the subject, and are therefore safe from ever having to change your pre-conceived notions.

    The queston is: what is the cause of evolution from the view of the concensous of evolutionary scientists?

    What do you mean "cause"? That word is so fraught with meanings, it doesn't really work in this question. Some possible answers as to what can "cause" evolution:

    Random mutation and (in species which reproduce sexually) recombination, which "causes" evolution by providing variation.

    --or--

    Natural selection, which "causes" evolution by winnowing out the random varieties which aren't as fitted to their environment.

    --or--

    The laws of chemistry and physics, which "causes" evolution by providing stable, information-bearing systems which can reproduce with slight errors and can be susceptible to natural selection.

    Does one of these answer the question you're asking? I can't tell.

    Duke

    ReplyDelete
  5. vess:

    "I'm intersted in intelligent design's explanation thereof, and how it compares with the evolutionary explanation."

    What do you expect from science? Of completeness, realism and method, which do you require? See:

    http://darwins-god.blogspot.com/2009/06/question-for-barbara-forrest.html

    ReplyDelete
  6. Peter:

    "I heard Dawkin's say that evolution is not based on random chance and that was a popular misconception. I understand the the definition of evolution can change to to mean anything as long as it involves a natural cause. The queston is: what is the cause of evolution from the view of the concensous of evolutionary scientists?"

    If you mean ultimate cause, then that is outside of evolutionary theory, and so you won't get an answer. If you merely mean: "What is it that causes life to arise and diversity, creating all the species?", the answer is, as you stated, that natural laws and processes are sufficient to explain life.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Dr. Hunter,

    Respectfully, the URL you posted does not address my question.

    In this post, you are apparently dissatisfied with evolution's explanation of the new discovery.

    What is your explanation, and how does it compare with evolution's explanation?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Vess:

    "Respectfully, the URL you posted does not address my question."

    Actually it does. I know it might seem strange, but if you answer my question then you'll have the answer to your question.

    If you mandate MN and realism, and not completeness, then there isn't room for a comparison as you don't allow design. You do recognize there may be limits to MN, and so there may be certain phenomena inappropriate for explanation via MN. And this may be such a case.

    If you mandate MN and completeness, and not realism, then again you have no room for design and there is no comparison as the only explanation allowed are evolutionary ones.

    If you mandate realism and completeness, and not MN, then you have room for design and the comparison depends on your assessment of the plausibility of the evolutionary explanation versus the evidence of intrinsic design.

    Finally, if you mandate all three: MN, completeness and realism, as do evolutionists, then you are introducing metaphysical presuppositions which will dictate the form of your answer. You not only have no room for design but you insist on naturalistic explanations for all phenomena. Needless to say there is no comparison, as your truth is already established. The only question is which evolutionary explanation is better. You can compare different evolutionary explanations, but you cannot compare with design.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Actually, it doesn't. Even if I grant your 3-way tug of war framework of scientific epistemology, what I expect from science would only bear relevance to MY interpretation of the explanations. As a layman, I'm not really qualified to do that.

    My question is about YOUR interpretation. Feel free to use any arrangement of the 3 elements, and draw the threshold between the natural and supernatural whever you'd like.

    To reiterate: you are dissatisfied with the evolutoinary explanation of the new discovery. What is your explanation, and how does it compare to the evolutionary explanation?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Vess:

    "As a layman, I'm not really qualified to do that ... My question is about YOUR interpretation."

    This quickly gets complicated, and we really need to learn more about cases such as this. So my "interpretation" at this point is really more of a wild guess. Given that caveat, my *guess* is that there are some not well understood (or not at all understood) genetic mechanisms that are (somehow) responsible for the non coding sequence that later became the majority of T-urf13. I find this explanation, though fuzzy as it is, more plausible than evolution's near miraculuous explanation that a protein coding sequence (or at least a good chunk of one) just happened to be lying around.

    So take your pick: a near miraculuous explanation that supports evolution's claim that de novo genes just spring up on occasion (thus multiplying the miracle many times over), or a fuzzy explanation that leaves evolution's claim unsupported. Evolution's claim would be unsupported because it would show that de novo genes owe their existence to some fancy genetic mechanisms, not dumb-luck miracles occurring over and over.

    By the way this shows how much of a science-stopper is evolution, whereas empirical approaches fuel scientific questions and research. In this case, the key question is: From where did that chunk of sequence come? Was it assembled from smaller pieces, or ...?

    ReplyDelete
  11. Something as complex as the cell could never have been born by chance ... when we see the functions it performs something so small for life to exist .... we marvel over according to a study called tinea corporis was said that with each discovery about cellular process was behind the idea of evolution ... thanks

    ReplyDelete