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Genome Complexity No Measure of Evolution

Do genes show an increasing pattern of complexity from lower to higher organisms?  Not necessarily, reported Elizabeth Pennisi in Science Now.  Cnidarians, including sea anemones and corals, for example, show almost as much complexity in their genomes as humans, whereas fruit flies and worms, seemingly more complex than cnidarians (06/25/2005, 2nd par.) appear to have […]

Listen to Yourself Evolve

A pretty gene is like a melody, decided Mary Anne Clark at Texas Wesleyan University, so she gave life to music—literally.  She translated the structure of proteins into musical notes so that she could hear “protein songs,” reported National Geographic News.  By listening to the songs, scientists and students alike can hear the structure of […]

Can Networks Design Themselves?

A molecular biologist and a physicist at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel (see also 09/26/2003) wrote a paper in PNAS1 with an intriguing title: “Spontaneous evolution of modularity and network motifs.”  Can a network arise spontaneously?     Biologists increasingly speak of the interaction of genes, proteins and metabolic processes in terms of […]

Alternative Gene Splicing May Be Common

Scientists at MIT publishing in PNAS1 detected instances of alternative splicing in over 1,000 genes of stem cells.  They also computed possible isoforms of mRNA transcriptions and found 80% of them in the cells.  Not only that, the isoforms (alternatively spliced versions of exons from the same gene) appeared to be functional: “We find that […]

Cell Has Automatic Jam-Clearing Proofreading Machinery

Findings at Rockefeller University have scientists excited.  DNA copying machines work on a “sliding clamp” that can hold two repair machines at the same time.  One is a low-fidelity repair tool, the other a high-fidelity repair tool.  Usually, the high-fidelity one is active, but when it needs a bigger hammer that is perhaps more effective […]

Reader Project: Calculate the Speed of Plant Package Delivery

Get out your pencil and hand calculator.  A team of Swedish and French scientists measured the velocity of a message traveling on the intraplant internet (see 08/12/2005, 11/09/2004, 10/04/2004 and 07/13/2001 entries).  Publishing in Science,1 they believe they have witnessed a signaling molecule, in the form of a messenger-RNA (mRNA; see yesterday’s entry) moving through […]

RNA Research Uncovers a Previously Ignored Universe of Genetic Information

A slow revolution is occurring in the study of genetic information.  Until recently, the only interesting items in DNA sequences were the genes – the genetic codes for proteins.  Since these usually represented only a small fraction of an organism’s genome, it was assumed the rest of the material was “junk DNA” – sequences that […]

Men Aren’t Going Extinct – Yet

Not long ago, evolutionary biologists were predicting the demise of manhood (see 11/01/2001, 03/31/2004).  The idea was that the Y chromosome, with no redundant copy (unlike the female’s two X chromosomes, and all others) appeared to be shriveling up and mutating itself out of existence.  Now that the chimpanzee genome has been published (see 09/01/2005 […]

Chimpanzee Genome Published: Is There a Monkey in Your Genes?

Nature’s cover story September 1 is about the publication of the chimpanzee genome.  Evolutionists are digging through the data for evidence of human common ancestry.  Have they found it?  The results, as usual, are mixed: MSNBC News states the situation concisely: “Genome comparison reveals many similarities – and crucial differences.”  Here is the gist of […]

What Do You Get When You Cross a Lion with a Tiger?

A liger, that’s what.  No kidding: you get a big cat with a mane and faint stripes that likes to play in the water.  National Geographic News has a special article, with photos, about ligers. This is offered without much comment, just for those who want to learn about something unusual in the animal kingdom, […]

What Is Really Known About the Genetic Basis of Evolution?

Now that the genomes of a variety of plants and animals have been published, is there a clear picture of evolution emerging?  Sean Carroll (Howard Hughes Medical Institute) wrote a review in PLoS Biology,1 in which he explored the current thinking about the evolution of anatomy at the genetic level.  The thing to watch for […]

More Evidence the Molecular Clock is Broken

“We live in interesting times,” grinned David Penny in Nature,1 reporting on how estimates of evolutionary past based on comparative genomics (the molecular clock) is producing confusing results.  Apparently, evolutionary geneticists are going to have to make use of the theory of relativity – i.e., that how fast the clock ticks depends on the viewpoint […]

The Death of the Concept of “Junk DNA”

“God don’t make no junk” has been a slogan for the self-esteem movement, and now no less than Science Now is providing support at the genetic level.  “Don’t call it junk” the article announces, indicating that stretches of non-coding DNA are apparently not useless regions of material as previously believed, but vital to the regulation […]

Cell Wonders Accelerate

Scientific papers on cell biology continue to uncover amazing things as techniques improve to peer into the workings of these units of life.  Here are our Top Ten from the last few weeks: Immunity Tunes:  A press release from Johns Hopkins talked about how, unlike other cells, immune cells undergo a “dizzying loop of activity” […]

Descendants Can Overcome Parental Mutations

Bad genes from both parents may not spell doom in all cases.  Scientists at Purdue University found that if two parents have bad mutations, the child can sometimes reconstruct the correct gene from the grandparents.  “Our genetic training tells us that’s just not possible,” said Bob Pruitt, co-researcher on the team that ran the experiment […]
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