For about a year now, from reading various news items on newly published science articles, I’ve begun to consider not DNA, but RNA, the real driver of life. I think that DNA’s essential role is that of information storage–a hard drive, while RNA is like the BIOS system–it tells the “system” what it should be doing.
I’ve been waiting for the right article to come along to present this newer view of genomic life. Well, it appears that the ‘right article’ has come along. This is from Phys.Org and this is the pdf online version of the article.
From the Press Release via Phys.Org:
Cells contain machinery that duplicates DNA into a new set that goes into a newly formed cell. That same class of machines, called polymerases, also build RNA messages, which are like notes copied from the central DNA repository of recipes, so they can be read more efficiently into proteins. But polymerases were thought to only work in one direction DNA into DNA or RNA. This prevents RNA messages from being rewritten back into the master recipe book of genomic DNA. Now, Thomas Jefferson University researchers provide the first evidence that RNA segments can be written back into DNA, which potentially challenges the central dogma in biology and could have wide implications affecting many fields of biology.
Richard Pomerantz, Ph.D., associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Thomas Jefferson University. “The reality that a human polymerase can do this with high efficiency, raises many questions.” For example, this finding suggests that RNA messages can be used as templates for repairing or re-writing genomic DNA.
Admittedly, these are much bolder statements than any made in the article itself.
Nevertheless, this does fit in with what I began thinking about after reading that it has been found that along with the father’s DNA, an RNA is also included which is responsible for initiating the life of the embryo. It’s hard to think this sort of stuff through in the absence of experiments, but a quick view of this certainly suggests, at least to me, that we must begin to view cellular life not just in terms of DNA–the “Central Dogma,” but in terms of a cooperation between RNA and DNA where it is entirely possible that RNA is the driver of cellular life. I think the great rise of discovered function in “junk-DNA” might be a harbinger of this needed change in understanding the functioning of cells and of life.
I think an expert assessment of this article is in order. I await your comments and observations. I wonder if anyone out there has had some of these same thoughts.