Cell biology Genomics Intelligent Design

Archaea microbes have genes like flexible slinkies

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Flexible “slinkies” form in DNA of archaea
Archaeal DNA forms coils that can flop apart in solution, new cryo-electron microscopy experiments reveal. Credit: S. Bowerman et al./eLife 2021

They were only discovered in 1977 and they get more unusual all the time:

Microbes called archaea package their genetic material into flexible shapes that flop open in unusual ways, Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Investigator Karolin Luger reports March 2, 2021, in the journal eLife. “Very much to our surprise, we found that these structures can undergo all sorts of gymnastics,” says Luger, a biochemist at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Like DNA in the nucleus of human cells, archaeal DNA coils around proteins like string wrapped around a yo-yo. But there’s another twist, the team found. Those coils of DNA can also spread 90 degrees apart—a phenomenon scientists hadn’t seen before. Such bends in the springlike structures could potentially let archaeal proteins sidle up to the DNA and switch genes on and off, Luger suggests. (Scientists don’t currently understand what role these “slinkies” play, she says.)

Howard Hughes Medical Institute, “Flexible ‘slinkies’ form in DNA of archaea” at Phys.org

The paper is open access.

So even simple creatures like Archaea might be editing their own genes? And that just somehow happens without any intelligence in nature? Oh, sure.

Note:Carl Woese, the discoverer of Archaea, was not a Darwinist. Interesting to reflect on that fact, in light of the crackdowns on non-Darwinian thinkers demanded in some quarters.

2 Replies to “Archaea microbes have genes like flexible slinkies

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    Looks like an HGT antenna. Maybe it’s time to consider HGT as a regular form of communication, parallel to sound and gestures and smell and electrostatic fields, with its own versions of senders and receivers.

  2. 2
    martin_r says:

    “Very much to our surprise, we found that these structures can undergo all sorts of gymnastics”

    ha-ha … a new week just started and here we go again, Darwinian science:

    “…very much to our surprise… ”
    “… it challenges a long-held theory…”
    “… it upends a common view…”
    “… it shakes up the dogma … ”
    “… it needs a rethink … ”
    “… the findings are surprising and unexpected …. ”
    “… earlier than thought…”
    “… younger than thought….”
    “… smarter than thought ….”
    “… more complex that thought ….”

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