Cell biology Genomics Intelligent Design

Are all those codes used by cells really “codes”?

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One biologist thinks that only DNA is really a code. David Coppedge disagrees.

Biologist Jonathan Wells has listed six codes used by cells: the genetic code, the epigenetic code, the membrane code, the sugar code, the RNA splicing code, and the bioelectric code. Geoffrey North, on the other hand, writing for Current Biology, contends that there is only one code, because all the others ultimately derive from DNA. Who’s right?

“As each eager new candidate comes along, it is invariably dubbed a new second genetic code — never a third or fourth genetic code…. Why is this? In the contemporary parlance of the internet age, a kind of crowd-sourced opinion is being made, a thumbs down to the claim, which, if truly meaningful and useful, would surely be taken up into general usage, to become the second genetic code. I would suggest we accord the one, universal genetic code its deserved special place by not nominating others to join it in a list.”

So is multiplying codes a taxonomic trick, a violation of Occam’s razor? Lest we be accused of standing by our ID colleague regardless, let’s look at some other information about codes in living things and then reason about what makes a code a code.

David Coppedge, “In Life, Not One Code but Many” at Evolution News (May 19, 2022)

Meanwhile, other codes are being found all the time, as Coppedge notes, listing some.

Bioelectric code:

Responding to Geoffrey North’s view, he notes,

But it seems fair to categorize codes separately if they contain unique information and produce unique results. Even if histones are built from DNA, once they are assembled, they no longer rely on the genetic code. They follow their own rules of tagging genes with “tails” made of other molecules. Transcription factors and their pulsations, similarly, act apart from the language of DNA triplet codons. How much more the sugar code, membrane code, and bioelectric codes that are not even made up of amino acids?

David Coppedge, “In Life, Not One Code but Many” at Evolution News (May 19, 2022)

You may also wish to read: Researchers: Cells organize themselves in our organs by increasing in volume when tissues bend. “The fact that this increase in volume is staggered in time and transient also shows that it is an active and living system,” adds a researcher. Once again, we are expected to believe that such a system can just develop in a gradual Darwinian fashion.

4 Replies to “Are all those codes used by cells really “codes”?

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    Every skill and trade and family and tribe has its own code, which it uses to keep secrets from competing skills and trades and families and tribes. If various cell functions act like trades or tribes, they would also want to encrypt and preserve their secrets. All tribal codes are subclassed from the public language, just as the cell-tribe codes are subclassed from DNA. (The tribal code of Object-Oriented Programming is especially suited for this discussion.)

  2. 2
    ET says:

    There is a website called Code Biology, that lists the known codes with respect to biology. Their list:

    In addition to the genetic code and the signal transduction codes, a wide variety of new organic codes have come to light in recent years. Among them: the sequence codes (Trifonov 1987, 1989, 1999), the Hox code (Paul Hunt et al. 1991; Kessel and Gruss 1991), the adhesive code (Redies and Takeichi 1996; Shapiro and Colman 1999), the splicing codes (Barbieri 2003; Fu 2004; Matlin et al. 2005; Pertea et al. 2007; Wang and Burge 2008; Barash et al. 2010; Dhir et al. 2010), the signal transduction codes (Barbieri 2003), the histone code (Strahl and Allis 2000; Jenuwein and Allis 2001; Turner 2000, 2002, 2007; Kühn and Hofmeyr 2014), the sugar code (Gabius 2000, 2009), the compartment codes (Barbieri 2003), the cytoskeleton codes (Barbieri 2003; Gimona 2008), the transcriptional code (Jessell 2000; Marquard and Pfaff 2001; Ruiz i Altaba et al. 2003; Flames et al. 2007), the neural code (Nicolelis and Ribeiro 2006; Nicolelis 2011), a neural code for taste (Di Lorenzo 2000; Hallock and Di Lorenzo 2006), an odorant receptor code (Dudai 1999; Ray et al. 2006), a space code in the hippocampus (O’Keefe and Burgess 1996, 2005; Hafting et al. 2005; Brandon and Hasselmo 2009; Papoutsi et al. 2009), the apoptosis code (Basañez and Hardwick 2008; Füllgrabe et al. 2010), the tubulin code (Verhey and Gaertig 2007), the nuclear signalling code (Maraldi 2008), the injective organic codes (De Beule et al. 2011), the molecular codes (Görlich et al. 2011; Görlich and Dittrich 2013), the ubiquitin code (Komander and Rape 2012), the bioelectric code (Tseng and Levin 2013; Levin 2014), the acoustic codes (Farina and Pieretti 2014), the glycomic code (Buckeridge and De Souza 2014; Tavares and Buckeridge 2015) and the Redox code (Jones and Sies 2015).

    The living world, in short, is literally teeming with organic codes, and yet so far their discoveries have only circulated in small circles and have not attracted the attention of the scientific community at large.

  3. 3
    Sandy says:

    The living world, in short, is literally teeming with organic codes, and yet so far their discoveries have only circulated in small circles and have not attracted the attention of the scientific community at large

    Why nothing about biological codes in biology textbooks?They know what to suppress because they know what hurt them . Of course biological codes are real codes. Life is not possible without codes.

    Funny thing the code is not alive , neither chemistry but the combination of both (code and chemistry ) forms life.

    Code itself it’s inert can’t produce life.
    Chemistry can’t produce life.
    Life exist.
    Conclusion?

  4. 4
    Trumper says:

    …”Even if histones are built from DNA, once they are assembled, they no longer rely on the genetic code. They follow their own rules of tagging genes with “tails” made of other molecules. …”

    Even if data results are built from code, once they are assembled, they no longer rely on the binary code. They follow their own rules of printing out made of other molecules…..

    I get it…neither data or printouts are ‘alive’ but that’s what makes DNA so special…. it is life…and from what I understand there is no life w/o it. and yes… chemistry is indeed involved….

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