If a genetic language written in DNA is a problem for Darwinism, how about two languages written in the same sequence of letters?
An “overlapping language” has been found in the genetic code, according to HealthDay News at MedLine Plus from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Since the genetic code was first deciphered in the 1960s, scientists have believed it was used solely to write information about proteins. But this new study from University of Washington scientists found that genomes use the genetic code to write two separate languages.
One language describes how proteins are made, and the other helps direct genetic activity in cells. One language is written on top of the other, which is why this other language went undiscovered for so long, according to the report in the Dec. 13 issue of Science.
Up till now, scientists have “missed half of the picture,” the team lead from the University of Washington said. Another thing this means is that changes to the code for proteins can also alter the regulatory code, leading to disease. This appears to make the genetic code more fragile, less likely to lead to evolutionary progress when mutations (the raw material of neo-Darwinism) occur.
According to a press release from the University of Washington, “UW scientists were stunned to discover that genomes use the genetic code to write two separate languages.” This “second code hiding within DNA” gives “double meaning to the genetic code,” the article says.
The study, part of the ENCODE project (see 9/06/12), was published in the Dec. 13 issue of Science. A Perspective piece in the same issue of Science by Weatheritt and Babu, “The Hidden Codes that Shape Protein Evolution,” actually said very little about evolution, other than that the finding “may influence codon choice and, consequently, protein evolution.” Indeed, the piece makes it harder on evolution by suggesting additional codes may reside within DNA:
Future research will need to determine the number of overlapping codes that can be tolerated by the genetic code. There is also the question of possible trade-offs, in terms of maintaining regulation and functionality, that have been made to accommodate coexistence of codes and whether this can lead to nonoptimal or deleterious consequences. For instance, protein-coding regions that cannot tolerate mutations due to multiple overlapping codes may be exploited by pathogens during host infection. The investigation of overlapping codes opens new vistas on the functional interpretation of variation in coding regions and makes it clear that the story of the genetic code has not yet run its course.
The original paper by Stergachis et al. also begs the question of Darwinian progress. It has more to say about “evolutionary constraints” of the overlapping codes than evolution itself. Conservation and tolerance to change weigh heavily in the analysis. The only mention of “natural selection” in the concluding paragraph assumes an improbable thing: that evolution “exploited” the phenomenon:
Our results indicate that simultaneous encoding of amino acid and regulatory information within exons is a major functional feature of complex genomes. The information architecture of the received genetic code is optimized for superimposition of additional information, and this intrinsic flexibility has been extensively exploited by natural selection. Although TF [transcription factor] binding within exons may serve multiple functional roles, our analyses above is agnostic to these roles, which may be complex.
Clearly, the kind of natural selection that constrains or eliminates change (purifying selection) is not helpful for creating new organs or functions. Instead, the words information, architecture, optimized, and function are more friendly to intelligent design. On Dec. 20, Evolution News & Views explained the significance of this paper for evolutionary theory.
Darwinians have known for so long that life is too complex to explain by unguided physical processes, this one just makes their rubble bounce. Yet they stand on their rubble heap, shouting epithets at design advocates, bullying those who don’t take orders from them (example), and sneering at the despised “creationists” most of all. They can’t run on fumes much longer. Accelerate regime change by sharing this entry on your social media.