December 23, 2010 | David F. Coppedge

Brain Synapse Machinery Is Finely Tuned

The New York Times published a brief article on brain facts that is astonishing, when you think about all that goes on in thinking.  Nicholas Wade reported on a new inventory of the proteins involved in the synapses, the key junctions between neurons. 

The research team, led by Seth Grant of the Sanger Institute near Cambridge, England, compiled the first exact inventory of all the protein components of the synaptic information-processing machinery.  No fewer than 1,461 proteins are involved in this biological machinery, they report in the current issue of Nature Neuroscience….
    Each neuron in the human brain makes an average 1,000 or so connections with other neurons.  There are 100 billion neurons, so the brain probably contains 100 trillion synapses, its most critical working part.
    At the side of a synapse that belongs to the transmitting neuron, an electrical signal arrives and releases packets of chemicals.  The chemicals diffuse quickly across the minute gap between the neurons and dock with receptors on the surface of the receiving neuron.
    These receptors feed the signals they receive to a delicate complex of protein-based machines that process and store the information.
    The 1,461 genes that specify these synaptic proteins constitute more than 7 percent of the human genome’s 20,000 protein-coding genes, an indication of the synapse’s complexity and importance.
    Dr. Grant believes that the proteins are probably linked together to form several biological machines that process the information and change the physical properties of the neuron as a way of laying down a memory.

Lest one think there is a lot of leeway in the system for evolution, the article went on to describe what mutations do.  Single mutations in 169 genes, the Sanger team found, cause 269 different human diseases.  “The tolerances of these machines seem to be very fine because almost any mutation in the underlying genes leads to a misshapen protein and, consequently, to disease,” the article said.  Science Daily reported that a single gene deletion leads to the most common form of adult brain cancer.
    See also the 11/19/2010 entry on brain-boggling facts.

Are you thinking that Darwin doesn’t have a prayer explaining this?  Look: machines made of other machines, information processing, fantastic complexity, very fine tolerance.  If you are thinking rightly, you will be thanking the Maker of your designed brain.
    This is the 700th “Amazing Facts” entry in Creation-Evolution Headlines brought to you in over 10 years of reporting.  Putting all of them together would make a sizeable book.  If you appreciate this amazing information made available here for free, consider supporting our site with a year-end donation.  Click the Donate button on the right-hand column.

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