August 24, 2009 | David F. Coppedge

DNA Translator More Complicated Than Thought

One of the most remarkable molecular machines in your body, the ribosome, is coming to light, nanometer by nanometer, as scientists find new ways to peer into the inner workings of the “black box.”
    Science Daily reported on work at Berkeley that has given the clearest imagery yet. 

“Ribosomes, which number in the millions in a single human cell, have long been considered the “black boxes” in molecular biology.  “We know what goes in and what comes out of ribosomes, but we’re only beginning to learn about what is going on in between” said the study’s principal investigator, Jamie Cate, UC Berkeley associate professor in chemistry and molecular and cell biology, and a faculty scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Ribosomes are frenetically active in all cells of the body.  They take the messenger RNA transcripts from the nucleus and translate them into proteins.  Two large protein-RNA subunits make up the ribosome, but hundreds of other components (proteins, cofactors and RNAs) take part in the operation.  The ribosome needs to faithfully translate the genetic code coming from the DNA in the nucleus. 

The mRNA dutifully delivers that code to the ribosome, which somehow reads the instructions, or “data tape,” as each amino acid is added to a growing protein chain.”
    At the same time, other RNA molecules, called transfer RNA (tRNA), bring to the ribosome amino acids, the raw building blocks needed for protein construction.

How fast is the translation work?  The article said a ribosome can translate 20 codons per second – an amazing rate considering how many parts are involved, bringing in raw materials, catalyzing reactions and checking for errors.  Scientists used to picture a simple ratchet mechanism that kept the “data tape” moving.  Now, they have found at least four operations in the ratchet. 

“We suspect that the ribosome changes its conformation in so many steps to allow it to interact with relatively big tRNAs while keeping the two segments of the ribosome from flying apart,” said Cate.  “It’s much more complicated than the simple ratcheting mechanism in a socket wrench.”

Much more work will be required to learn how the mechanism works in detail.  Interruptions to the ribosome (such as hijacking by viruses) can cause deadly diseases.  For our health, and our sense of wonder at the nano-universe, we need to learn as much as we can about cellular machinery.  Cate said, “I’m looking forward to producing a movie of a ribosome with enough resolution and enough frames per millisecond that we can see what is happening at a molecular level…. We still have a long way to go, but we’re working hard.”  The article said nothing about evolution, nor did the original paper in Science.1
    Another paper in Science discussed in detail one of the many essential proteins that begins translation by forming the first peptide bond inside the ribosome.2  Called elongation factor P (EF-P), it has a special binding site inside the ribosome and binds to both major subunits, the transfer RNA, and other ribosomal components, indicating multiple specificities in its shape for the important function it performs.  During its operation, it undergoes gymnastics: it binds to L1, “which results in the largest movement of the L1 stalk that has been observed in the absence of ratcheting of the ribosomal subunits.”  This precise movement is essential for proper positioning of the amino acids so that the first peptide bond is formed as translation begins.  Essential for cell viability, EF-P is found in archaeal cells; a similar enzyme, elF-5A, operates in eukaryotes.  This paper also did not mention evolution, except to state that the active components of EF-P and elF-5A are “extremely well conserved” (i.e., unevolved).
    For an excellent animation of the whole process of translating DNA into protein, see a video at the Signature in the Cell website.  Stephen Meyer’s book of that name contains detailed descriptions of the ribosome, along with a great deal of historical, philosophical and mathematical background information that explains how these complex protein machines are behind the reach of chance.


1.  Zhang, Dunkle and Cate, “Structures of the Ribosome in Intermediate States of Ratcheting,” Science, 21 August 2009: Vol. 325. no. 5943, pp. 1014-1017, DOI: 10.1126/science.1175275.
2.  Blaha, Stanley and Steitz, “Formation of the First Peptide Bond: The Structure of EF-P Bound to the 70S Ribosome,” Science, 21 August 2009: Vol. 325. no. 5943, pp. 966-970, DOI: 10.1126/science.1175800.

Darwinists need to understand two things: (1) they are flat wrong about the oft-quoted dictum that nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.  These scientists needed evolutionary theory like a swimmer needs a millstone around his neck.  (2) The trend in discovery in molecular biology is undermining their credibility.  It has been destroying evolution for decades.
    It’s not like this is the first revelation that evolution is powerless to produce these molecular machines.  How long ago did Darwin’s Black Box come out?  13 years, and they still haven’t learned.  Before that, Michael Denton blasted Darwinism’s reliance on chance in Evolution: A Theory in Crisis.  Our online book, first published in 1973, blew a chance origin of life out of the whole universe.  Before that the Wistar Institute formulated mathematical challenges to the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution.  The first glimpses of the complexity of the genetic translation process came to light in the 1950s.  And now, Signature in the Cell is continuing the tradition of offering scientific evidence that is absolutely devastating to Darwinism.
    Look at how incorrigible the Darwinians are.  Over 50 years have passed since molecular biology rendered evolution bankrupt, but they are still as belligerent and intolerant as ever.  Through the raw exercise of power, driving on fumes, they resist any attempt at letting their critics get a seat at the scientific table or on school boards.  They are ruthless in attitude but toothless in aptitude, with no gratitude for the scholarship of scholars who disagree with them.  They are totalitarian dictators.  The few who listen and reason are appreciated, but what value do the likes of Eugenie Scott, PZ Myers, Jerry Coyne and the other Darwin dobermans bring to science?  They are insufferable demagogues and incorrigible ideologues for a falsified theory that is not credible.  They are like revolutionary radicals who campaign for parliaments only to subvert them into oppressive one-party dictatorships.  They dole out perks to their friends, the Darwin Party mythmakers and storytellers, but send their critics into exile and engage in character assassination.  They’ve had the facts long enough.  If they cared about facts, they would have repented long ago in dust and ashes.  The only hope is to oust them from power.  Let’s keep pounding away with the facts of molecular biology, sharing the evidence and convincing as many unpolluted minds as we can, till freedom and sense return to the halls of science. 

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