March 12, 2006 | David F. Coppedge

Misfolded Proteins Cause Cascade of Harmful Effects

Understanding how proteins fold is at the leading edge of scientific research.  Proteins begin as linear chains of amino acids (polypeptides), but end as complex shapes with loops, sheets, bumps, ridges and grooves that are essential to their functions.  If you imagine a string of beads, some with electrical charges, magnets, oil droplets or other attraction-repulsion attributes on them, what would happen if you dropped it in water?  It would seem there are a myriad ways it could collapse into a shapeless mass.  How many of those possible shapes would make it a machine?  That’s the kind of problem that protein-folding presents to the researcher.
    Normally, cells help the newly-assembled polypeptides fold properly with the aid of chaperones, the cellular “dressing rooms” where they can prepare for their debut (05/05/2003).  Mistakes happen, however.  A mutation might put a charge on the wrong amino acid, making it fold the wrong way.  Here again, the cell usually deals with these badly-folded masses and destroys them as part of its “quality control” procedures.  Once in awhile, however, misfolded protein machines get out of control, and some, like chain saws run amok, can cause harm.  Here’s an excerpt from an article in Science by Gillian Bates (King’s College London School of Medicine).  Describing recent work on this subject, he explains the consequences:

This work indicates that the chronic expression of a misfolded protein can upset the cellular protein folding homeostasis under physiological conditions.  These results have implications for pathogenic mechanisms in protein conformational diseases.  The human genome harbors a load of polymorphic variants and mutations that might be prevented from exerting deleterious effects by protein folding and clearance quality control mechanisms in the cell.  However, should these mechanisms become overwhelmed, as in a protein conformation disease, mild folding variants might contribute to disease pathogenesis by perturbing an increasing number of cellular pathways…. Therefore, the complexity of pathogenic mechanisms identified for protein conformation diseases could in part result from the imbalance in protein folding homeostasis. (Emphasis added in all quotes.)

In other words, one mistake in one protein can have a cascading effect, causing a multitude of mistakes downstream.  The normal dynamic equilibrium of the cell (homeostasis) turns into a disaster scene, as the quality-control cops become overwhelmed by victims, as in a natural disaster.  Examples of degenerative diseases caused by misfolded proteins mentioned in the article: “Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis—these neurodegenerative disorders are among many inherited diseases that have been linked to genetic mutations that result in the chronic aggregation of a single specific protein.”  Bates did not mention evolution in his article.

1Gillian Bates, “Perspectives: One Misfolded Protein Allows Others to Sneak By,” Science, 10 March 2006: Vol. 311. no. 5766, pp. 1385 – 1386, DOI: 10.1126/science.1125246.

Small perturbations in a highly complex working system can have drastic effects.  Notice how the cell has numerous safeguards to prevent this kind of runaway disaster: mechanisms to prevent misfolding, and procedures to safely capture and dismantle the escapees.  How this system ever arrived at such a high level of complex organization is never described in detail by the evolutionists, but they want us to believe that the escaped convicts are the heroes of the story.  They want us to believe that the mistakes and terror attacks are responsible for all the beauty and complexity of the living world, from peacock’s tails to flight muscles of bees that can flap hundreds of times a second, to the ability of humans to run a marathon.  From all indications, on the contrary, life is in a tenuous balance, and the factors trying to upset that balance are increasing.  The Theory of Devolution would appear to have better empirical support.
    What would happen to science if the Theory of Devolution gained dominance?  Science would go on.  Medical knowledge would advance.  Clever researchers would find ways to reinforce cellular quality control processes and develop means to prevent catastrophes.  Life would be seen as a precious commodity to conserve, with the same earnestness of those who try to rescue endangered species and prevent global warming.  In short, science and medical research would continue to thrive and (we think) sail higher and faster without Darwin’s storytelling baggage that only weighs the Beagle down.  An intelligently designed T shirt asks, “Did Darwin Get It Backwards?”  From all indications, such as the article above, yes: the world is running down, and life is facing an ever-growing genetic burden.  Darwinists are all worked up emotionally about their opponents, claiming that by discrediting evolutionary theory they are going to “destroy science.”  Ask yourself, who is the better sailor: the one trying to patch the leaks on the ship, or the slob leaning back against a barrel and speculating, “don’t worry about those holes, matey; given enough time, they will help make the ship stronger!”

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Categories: Cell Biology, Health

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