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Cell atlases reveal extreme complexity at biology’s frontiers


From Jordana Cepelewicz at Quanta:

For over a century, distinctions between types of cells relied on how they appeared under a microscope: their shapes, sizes, locations and their uptake of staining dyes. Recent decades, however, witnessed a shift to molecular methods that use fluorescently labeled antibodies to target protein markers on the cell’s surface. Although this approach allowed researchers to isolate more cell types, it was not enough, according to Hacohen. Until 2009, biologists could analyze cells only in bulk, averaging signals from multitudes of them to get a picture of what was going on in a tissue. When sequencing RNA from individual cells finally became possible, the initial analyses were what Hacohen called “biased” and “shallow” because the few markers used to classify the cells were too insensitive to nuances of differences among them. “Does this really capture the complexity of the cell?” Hacohen said.

In a study published in Science this past April, he and his team showed that, as expected, much of this complexity had been obscured. Analyzing patterns of gene expression in individual human immune system cells, the researchers refined the definitions of the types known as dendritic cells and monocytes and identified a novel type that had been overlooked. Moreover, they discovered that a cell population thought to comprise one subtype was actually a mixture of two, which perform different functions.More.

Darwinism was a much more intellectually viable idea in the days when cells were simple little blobs of jelly. Now it hangs on by sheer determination and a killer instinct.

See also: Lungs’ unexpected new complex function: Making blood

Hat tip: Pos-Darwinista

DATCG @2: Interesting questions. Thanks. Dionisio
"One of the paper’s most salient findings, according to its principal investigator, Emma Lundberg, was that as many as half of our proteins can be found in multiple compartments of a cell. “Everything that proteins do is specific within the context of their environment,” Lundberg said. “If one protein is present in the nucleus but also in the plasma membrane, it might have different functions in those compartments.""
Interesing paper. How do multi-function proteins favor neo-Darwinism as an explanatory theory? Random Mutations + Natural Selection? Via gradual steps? If proteins have different functions dependent upon conditional local context, at what point are multiple functions "randomly mutated" in the life cycle of the protein? Without harm to various different functions? And therefore harm to life of the organism from potential life-threating failures? How does blind, unguided mutations that are detrimental and overwhelming in number to beneficial changes build-up not just one function, but multi-functional proteins? Without degrading organisms or worse? The cycle would be dependent upon regulatory genes and so-called non-coded regulatory features as well. So that, the coordination between protein, editing, and epigenetic features must all be synchronized in order and timing. Can a coordinated systems approach allow such mutations to arise in multi-functional usage? Without prior, directed rules in place? DATCG
Here's a link to the original paper: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/356/6335/eaah4573
Hat tip: Pos-Darwinista
Is that from Brazil? Don't they have Darwinian censorship brigades in that country? Dionisio

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