Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Wouldn’t you know, jumping “junk DNA” can be lethal too

artist’s image of double helix/Public Domain

Researchers Nigel Goldenfeld and Thomas Kuhlman noticed that “half of the human genome is made up of retrotransposons [jumping genes, “junk DNA”], but bacteria hardly have them at all” and wondered what would happen if they just inserted some:

“We thought a really simple thing to try was to just take one (retrotransposon) out of my genome and put it into the bacteria just to see what would happen,” Kuhlman said. “And it turned out to be really quite interesting.”

Their results, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, give more depth to the history of how advanced life may have emerged billions of years ago—and could also help determine the possibility and nature of life on other planets.

Along the way to explaining life, the researchers first encountered death—bacterial death, that is. When they put retrotransposons in bacteria, the outcome was fatal.

“As they jump around and make copies of themselves, they jump into genes that the bacteria need to survive,” Kuhlman said. “It’s incredibly lethal to them.”

When retrotransposons copy themselves within the genome, they first find a spot in the DNA and cut it open. To survive, the organism then has to repair this cut. Some bacteria, like E. coli, only have one way to perform this repair, which usually ends up removing the new retrotransposon. But advanced organisms (eukaryotes) have an additional “trick” called nonhomologous end-joining, or NHEJ, that gives them another way to repair cuts in their DNA.

Goldenfeld and Kuhlman decided to see what would happen if they gave bacteria the ability to do NHEJ, thinking that it would help them tolerate the damage to their DNA. But it just made the retrotransposons better at multiplying, causing even more damage than before.

“It just completely killed everything,” Kuhlman said. “At the time, I thought I was just doing something wrong.” More” at Phys.org

You are doing something wrong, Dr. Kuhlman. You are tinkering with an engineered system whose manual you have never read, though you may end up contributing to it. 😉

Now, what’s the story about the history of advanced life and the possibility and nature of life on other planets, as noted above?

History of advanced life:

This study suggests that group II introns, the ancestors of introns in the spliceosome and retrotransposons in eukaryotes, somehow invaded early eukaryotic cells. Then, their interactions with NHEJ created a “selection pressure” that helped lead to the emergence of the spliceosome, which helped life become advanced billions of years ago.

They “somehow invaded”? From where?

The spliceosome helped life become advanced by enabling eukaryotes to do more with their DNA. For example, even though humans have roughly the same number of genes as C. elegans, a worm, humans can do more with those genes.

No doubt, humans can do more than worms. But can we specify what the “more” is exactly? And how does it relate to “selection pressures” (the quotation marks are in the original?

About life on other planets?

“If life exists on other planets, presumably one would expect it to be microbial. Could it ever have made this transition to complex life?” Goldenfeld said. “It’s not that you’re inevitably going to get advanced life, because there are a bunch of things that have to happen.”

There are indeed “a bunch of things that have to happen.” But are we learning the right lessons from these discoveries? A vast amount of information entered the system at some point, without killing everything it touched, and we have no clue as to how that happened. Maybe we should look for patterns rather than a big fluke.

Hat tip: Philip Cunningham   Follow UD News at Twitter!

See also: Humans may have only 19,000 coding genes

“Junk DNA” regulates regeneration of tissues and organs

Note: One junk DNA defender just isn’t doing politeness anymore. Hmmm. In a less Darwinian science workplace, that could become more a problem for him than for his colleagues.

Junk DNA can actually change genitalia. Junk DNA played the same role in defending Darwinian evolution as claims that Neanderthal man was a subhuman. did: The vast library of junk genes and the missing link made Darwin’s story understandable to the average person and the missing link even became part of popular culture. With Darwinism so entrenched, the fact that these beliefs are not based on fact will be difficult to root out of the culture. Darwin-only school systems are part of the problem.

Been a while since we’ve heard much about humans as the 98% or 99% chimpanzee. If the human genome is this fuzzy how would we know? And doubtless, things have gotten more complex.

At Quanta: Cells need almost all of their genes, even the “junk DNA”

“Junk” RNA helps regulate metabolism

Junk DNA defender just isn’t doing politeness any more.

Anyone remember ENCODE? Not much junk DNA? Still not much. (Paper is open access.)

Yes, Darwin’s followers did use junk DNA as an argument for their position.

Another response to Darwin’s followers’ attack on the “not-much-junk-DNA” ENCODE findings

That is a scientific statement by an evolutionists - there are a "bunch of things that have to happen" - really? Wow, so you killed some bacteria and realized that complex life probably didn't come from bacteria to begin with, but instead you just suppose Eukaryotic life got insanely lucky AGAIN, and it "evolved" - no need to explain steps here, just play with advanced machinery and kill something, and state that a bunch of stuff had to happen here on earth - Is that a quantitative assessment? Don't even feel the need to mention it had to "just happen" in just the right order. Look, God Spoke, and there was an injection of very complex information - that is the best explanation, always has been, but researchers like this will never make any real progress as they will ALWAYS be stuck at "evolution of the gaps", using Evolution, the name of the theory itself, in place of giving us some clue as to how, step by step they think this could have occurred without A MIND behind it - never mind that you could fill the universe with primordial soup and still not get a very modest 150 amino acid useful protein by chance, if you gave the universe another trillion years. Maybe this is why there are several books written that argue that life maybe exceedingly rare in the universe I know a couple by secular scientists - HOW CAN YOU SAY THAT the multiverse fans cry out! ET's are everywhere, give us a 10 Billion and will find it on Europa .....sure you will... Well they can say that with confidence, because they actually look at each step and quantify, and realize it is ridiculously and hopelessly impossible without an intelligence behind it, while those that believe the universe is just overflowing with life, are actually more creationists than they would ever admit to - as according to them, life just happens - Yeah and jet planes just "happen" given enough time!!! You would think people that are evidently smarter than your average person could grasp this idea and give it an honest look, but nope, does not fit their religion of scientism. Tom Robbins
as to:
“It just completely killed everything,” Kuhlman said. “At the time, I thought I was just doing something wrong.” You are doing something wrong, Dr. Kuhlman. You are tinkering with an engineered system whose manual you have never read,
:) LOL, or to put it another way "fools rush in where angels fear to tread" bornagain77

Leave a Reply